New Nursing Home Generator Rules Take Effect
As Floridians wrap up another hurricane season, it is important to take stock of the changes that occurred after Hurricane Irma last year, especially changes affecting nursing homes. After a horrific situation at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, in which multiple residents lost their lives as a result of extreme temperatures after the HVAC systems failed, the Florida Legislature passed a bill imposing new safety equipment rules on nursing homes to avoid more tragedies of this type. Retaining the services of an attorney experienced in nursing home negligence is crucial to ensure that a resident who is injured as a result of an accident at a nursing home can potentially receive reimbursement for their damages. A recent investigation by the Agency of Health Care Administration (AHCA), the entity responsible for ensuring compliance with the new backup generator rule, has indicated that only 48 nursing homes and 91 assisted living facilities were in compliance as it went into effect at the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season. A discussion of this rule, and what to do if injured at a nursing home, will follow below.
After a bit of legal issues, bills that led to Rule 59A-4.1265 eventually passed both chambers of the Florida Legislature. Pursuant to this rule, all Florida nursing homes are now required to acquire sufficient generators to ensure ambient temperatures will be maintained no higher than 80° for a period of at least 96 hours in the event of a loss of electrical power. In other words, all Florida nursing homes are now required to have sufficient generators and fuel on hand to power the facility for a period of four days.
Additionally, all Florida nursing homes must develop an emergency response plan, and have that emergency response plan approved by their local county’s emergency management response department or agency. Once the emergency response plan is approved, nursing homes must, within two days, report the approval to the Department of Elder Affairs and the AHCA. Further, within 15 days of this submission, the Florida Fire Marshal must inspect the installation of the generators.
Nursing Home Negligence
For those nursing homes that are not in compliance with this rule, it is imperative that friends and families conduct checks on their loved ones if power is lost to the nursing home. In addition to visiting a loved one at the nursing home, which can serve as a means to check on the quality of the care provided to the resident, it is advisable to periodically contact a loved on via telephone or other means, also to serve as another check on the care provided to the resident. This may, at first, seem unnecessary, as many friends and family members may assume that the resident is adequately monitored; however, such is not always the case, and given the mental and physical conditions some residents are in while resident at a nursing home, they may not even understand their surroundings or whether they are, in fact, a victim of neglect.
Thus, it is important to always be cognizant for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, and, if one suspects something is amiss, just as important to document every interaction between the family member or friend and the nursing home, as well as the resident and the nursing home. Based on the events at the Rehabilitation Center in 2017, this awareness should be put on high alert when natural events, such as hurricanes, have occurred in hopes of preventing significant injury or death.
Seek Legal Advice
If you are looking at the possibility of entering a nursing home, or are already resident in a nursing home, please be aware of these rules, and ask for confirmation that any nursing home you are considering or are resident in is in compliance with them. If you have suffered an injury at a nursing home, contact the attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. The attorneys at our office have the experience necessary to review the facts and determine whether the home is in compliance, and if not, ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.