State Lawmaker Wants To Reform Assisted Living Facilities

Oct 10, 2017

A Florida lawmaker is calling on the state to overhaul regulations for nursing homes. The push comes after 14 patients died from overheating due to a power outage at an assisted living facility.

Credit Ulrich Joho via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/30963112@N02/4084144518/

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost power after Hurricane Irma, and staff left residents in dangerously high heat instead of taking them to a hospital across the street. So far 14 deaths have been linked to the incident.

Democratic Senator Gary Farmer saw the crisis firsthand; the now closed rehab center in his district. In order to prevent future tragedies, he says the state needs to do more than require generators.

“Where was the oversight over the general operations of this facility and more part, their emergency plan?" Farmer asked. "Anybody can have an emergency plan on paper. We as a state need to ensure that these facilities have the supplies, equipment, personnel and wherewithal to carry out that plan.”

Farmer wants to expand emergency plans, scrutinize licensing rules, increase state oversight and beef up enforcement.

"I can't say that I have confidence in placing those folks in a nursing home in the state of Florida."

“If I’m a person looking to place my parents or my grandparents in a nursing home, making those tough end of life decisions, as I stand here today, I can’t say that I have confidence in placing those folks in a nursing home in the state of Florida," he said. "We need to do better.”

Farmer hopes to win bipartisan support for his plans. But the Legislature has seen political battles over nursing homes before, with reforms failing to pass both chambers.