Elder Care Facilities Fail to Meet State Regulations for Hurricane Preparedness

According to an article by NBC news, as Florida entered Labor Day weekend bracing for the potential impact of Hurricane Dorian upon its eastern coast, hundreds of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities had yet to meet the emergency power plan regulations required by state law.

Florida cities from Miami to Jacksonville were on high alert for the impending hurricane, which would hit the Bahamas with Category 5 strength en route toward the southeastern coast of the United States. But just days before Dorian threatened to slam Florida with high winds, heavy rain, and storm surge flooding, 60 percent of the state’s 3,700 elder care facilities that were expected to come into compliance with safety regulations had not yet done so.

Following the death of 14 residents in 2017 when a south Florida nursing home lost air conditioning after Hurricane Irma, new state safety regulations for elder care facilities were swiftly legislated. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration has since been keeping a close eye on the state’s elder care industry with regard to safety, levying fines against more than 300 facilities who failed to comply with requirements within the last year.

According to the regulations, all Florida elder care facilities must ensure interior temperatures are maintained at 81 degrees or below for at least 96 hours after losing power, a requirement that necessitates the support of generators. With more than a year to comply with requirements, many Florida nursing homes were requesting time extensions to resolve backup power issues even as the 2019 hurricane season closed in upon them. According to NBC’s article, even those facilities requesting more time to secure a generator are required to have at least a temporary generator, a means of obtaining one within 24 hours of losing power, or an evacuation plan.

While some facilities complained about a low generator supply and a lack of installation experts, the state health care administration agency plans to remain vigilant in holding non-compliant nursing homes accountable. And while Dorian looks to stay offshore from Florida and has reduced to a Category 2 hurricane, the damage this hurricane will render to the southeast coast remains to be seen.

Be Sure Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Meets State Safety Standards

When seeking a Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home, it’s important to ensure the facility meets all safety regulations. If you are seeking an elder care facility for a loved one and need advice on how best to choose a Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home, or if you suspect neglect or abuse has occurred at a Philadelphia/PA or NJ facility where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.