Irma Nursing Home Tragedy Prompts A Power Bill

Sep 18, 2017

Calling the Hurricane Irma-related deaths of eight people in South Florida a preventable tragedy, a Plantation Democrat wants to force nursing homes to have a five-day emergency power supply. 

Eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died in the wake of Hurricane Irma, prompting Democratic Senator Lauren Book, D-Plantation, to propose new regulations.
Credit Washington Times

Some people are calling Senator Lauren Book’s proposal a “generator bill,” but the legislation actually refers to a “fully operational emergency power source.”

She says a faulty circuit breaker may have caused an air-conditioning failure blamed for the deaths, so the bill forces regulators to check electrical systems in surprise inspections.

“I think this is one small piece, well, maybe one big piece of the puzzle of how we look at the regulatory component of nursing homes.”

Governor Rick Scott’s latest emergency order gives the industry 45 days to come up with a plan for keeping facilities colder than 80 degrees for at least 96 hours after a power failure.

Florida Health Care Association spokeswoman Kristen Knapp says nursing home owners and regulators and other stake holders will hammer out the details at a Tallahassee summit next week.

“You’ve got zoning issues, you’ve got plans and construction, you’ve got permitting, you’ve got funding. There’s just a lot of discussion that needs to take place, and we’re looking forward to that discussion on Friday.”

Knapp says FHCA doesn’t have a position on the bill. For the record, she says, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where the deaths occurred, does not belong to the association.