The 2019 hurricane season has just begun and the first major hurricane – a Category 5 name Dorian – crippled the islands of the Bahamas and nearly missed a direct impact with Florida.
For many Florida residents, especially those living in the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the next few months may be filled with fear and concern.
The reason? They know the effect a powerful storm can have.
In 2017, a tragic incident left 12 nursing home residents dead when Hurricane Irma stormed through South Florida knocking out power.
In the aftermath, many facilities could not provide air conditioning and other support to their residents. One, the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills in Hollywood Florida, saw 12 residents die from sweltering heat after the hurricane knocked out power and the air conditioning failed, leaving residents to face rising temperatures, heat related symptoms and dehydration. Because of this nightmare, staff members at the nursing home were criminally charged.
Yet, the issues that led to this tragedy still exist across Florida. Nearly 60% of nursing homes across the state still do not have back up generators that could keep residents safe after a power outage – even after the state of Florida has required it.
“Out of 687 nursing homes in the state, 400 — 58.2 percent — have been given more than an additional year by state officials to meet the requirements, though the original deadline was the start of last year’s hurricane season. About 90 percent of the state’s 3,000-plus assisted living facilities, which are often smaller and have fewer beds, have said they have installed equipment that meets the new standards.”
Regulations were put into place after the events at the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills. After public outcry, state legislators acted.
Yet, many facilities keep asking for more time. Again from TampaBay.com,
“During the nearly two years since Irma’s landfall, hundreds of nursing homes have repeatedly asked state officials to push back the deadline to meet those regulations. Florida officials have granted that request three times. Facilities that have obtained “variances” from the requirements are relying on additional temporary generators, portable coolers and in worst-case scenarios evacuations. The agency has previously said facilities need to provide proof of how they will keep residents safe and cool to be approved for more time to meet the requirements, and that facilities need to provide monthly reports of their progress implementing their emergency power plans.”
If another hurricane does hit Florida and leaves elderly residents without electricity and air conditioning, who will be to blame?
Read the entire article – Nursing Homes Learned Their Lesson After Irma in 2017. Or Did They? – here.