October 19, 2021

Most long-term care facilities meet Florida's backup power requirements

Headed into the 2021 hurricane season, the vast majority of Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities are in compliance with rules requiring them to have emergency backup generators and 72 hours of fuel on-site.

The state Agency for Health Care Administration website shows that 17 nursing homes  and eight assisted living facilities have not fully complied with the backup power requirements.

The 17 nursing homes, which account for about 3% of the overall nursing home beds in the state, are scattered across 11 counties, from Escambia County in the far western Panhandle to three nursing facilities in Miami-Dade County in Southeast Florida. The eight assisted living facilities that have not fully complied are in Miami-Dade, Broward and Pinellas counties.

That means that 681 nursing homes and 3,127 assisted living facilities are “fully compliant,” indicating that their emergency operation plans have been approved by the state and local governments and generators are “available.”

The rules also require nursing homes to have sufficient fuel available for 96 hours after the loss of electrical power during a declared state of emergency. Nursing homes must have stored on-site a minimum of 72 hours of fuel.

The amount of fuel that assisted living facilities must maintain on-site varies with the sizes of the facilities. Assisted living facilities with 16 or fewer beds are required to have 48 hours of fuel on-site, and larger ALFs are required to have 72 hours of fuel. But the rules also make clear that the generator and fuel requirements must be in accordance with the statewide building code and local zoning.

The state website includes nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have gotten a “permanent variance” from the rules. But the Agency for Health Care Administration did not post how many facilities had received permanent variances, and the information was not immediately available. Additionally, it’s not clear whether facilities with variances are considered fully compliant with the rule.

Former Gov Rick Scott mandated emergency backup power after Hurricane Irma in 2017 knocked out the air-conditioning system at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a Broward County nursing home, leading to sweltering conditions in the subsequent days. Authorities attributed as many as 12 deaths to the conditions in the facility, with the deaths and a mass evacuation drawing national media attention.

Scott, now a U.S. senator, initially imposed the power requirements through an emergency rule after the Broward County deaths, giving long-term care providers 60 days to meet the requirements.

Tags: News Service of Florida


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