Florida Nursing Homes Agree to Softened Rules on Backup Power

The Florida skilled nursing industry has collectively agreed to a modified rule that requires operators in the state to have access to backup electricity sources in the event of a power outage.

The decision concludes months of discussion among skilled nursing providers and the state legislature regarding a rule proposed by Gov. Rick Scott following Hurricane Irma and an incident in a Hollywood, Fla. nursing home where 14 people died due to a sustained power outage.

Gov. Scott announced this week that the Florida Health Care Association, Florida Senior Living Association, LeadingAge Florida, and the Florida Assisted Living Association have all agreed to support the a requirement for emergency generators to power air conditioning units during outages. The new rules now await ratification by the Florida Legislature.

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“Following the tragic loss of life at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center last year, I immediately ordered our state agencies to require each nursing home and ALF in Florida to have emergency generators to keep their residents safe during a disaster,” Gov. Scott said in a statement. “My goal throughout this process was to ensure that every facility in Florida can provide a safe environment for its residents. These rules accomplish this important goal by having generators and fuel supply resources at every nursing home and ALF in Florida.”

In September, the initial proposed rule included language that would require nursing homes prove that they have enough fuel to power a backup generator for 96 hours, with ambient temperatures kept below 80 degrees. Failure to comply would result in $1,000-per-day fines and possible license revocation under the proposed rule.

Trade groups fought back in opposition, arguing that a 60-day implementation timeframe was too short to meet the requirements. Then this month, a modified version of the rule was released, which was found to be more amenable to nursing homes and assisted living operators in the state. Last week, trade group LeadingAge pulled its opposition to the modified rule, and this week all major associations agreed.

“Throughout this process, we have remained supportive of the governor’s original intent — to ensure vulnerable Floridians are kept safe during emergency situations,” Gail Matillo, president of the Florida Senior Living Association, said. “We believe these rules will benefit both Florida seniors and the communities invested in providing them with quality living environments.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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