After Disaster: New Emergency Requirements for Nursing Homes

During Hurricane Irma, 14 people died at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, Florida, due to a power outage that left residents in extreme heat. Lack of air conditioning made the building heat up like an oven. One of the victims died with a body temperature of 109.9 degrees. The nursing home’s owners now face criminal investigation and civil lawsuits.

In response to the tragedy, Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an emergency order requiring nursing homes to have generators that can run air conditioners.

The nursing home industry has brought court cases to challenge the emergency order. But in the meantime, state senators Lauren Book and Rene Garcia have filed bills to make the generator requirement a state law. Also, state senator Gary Farmer is preparing a more comprehensive Florida nursing home reform bill.

On the Federal level, U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz is sponsoring a bill that will require nursing homes to have generators that can run air conditioning for at least 96 hours in the event of an emergency power outage. The bill will also put nursing homes on the top priority list, along with hospitals, for restoring power after a hurricane.

The Federal bill provides for loans to help small facilities comply with the new regulation. Homes that have fewer than 50 beds, or a private room monthly rate of $6,000 or less could qualify for a loan to get the generators and other required equipment. This bill also sets up higher fines for facilities that break the rules and adds nursing homes to the critical infrastructure list so power will be restored there first.

Nursing homes are among the most important resources for long term care. For more information about long term care insurance see the Guide To Long Term Care.


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