An agreement has been reached between the state and Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities on the issue of generators to provide a backup source of electricity during natural disasters.
The agreement comes months after Gov. Rick Scott first proposed such a rule sparking debate and legal challenges by some of those facilities.
“This is a big win for our state and makes Florida one of the first states in the nation to require emergency generators at nursing homes and ALFs,” said Scott. “The bottom line is that we fought for residents and they will be safer because of these rules. I look forward to the legislature ratifying these life-saving rules.”
The original order was first issued in response to the deaths of several residents at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center in September after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the facilities air conditioning units.
In that order, Scott mandated nursing homes have backup generators installed within 60 days or face fines of up to $1,000 a day. Many in the long term care industry said those requirements were unrealistic and some facilities challenged the order in the legal system.
Under the new proposal announced Tuesday by Scott, facilities would be required to maintain generators onsite. The generators can be mobile units which do not require installation, but they must be maintained onsite when the building is occupied. Facilities would have to be in compliance with the new rule by June 1. The industry says it will make it easier for facilities to comply.
“The health and well-being of our state’s frail elders is our members’ number one priority,” said Executive Director Emmit Reed with the Florida Health Care Association. “Our association has worked with Governor Scott, AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration) and DOEA (Department of Elder Affairs) since September on how our members can implement these important life-saving rules. We are glad that all stakeholders were able to come to the table, work together and agree to lasting policy that will keep residents and patients safe in Florida.”
The new rules must be ratified by the Florida Legislature during their current legislative session.