Numerous nursing homes in Florida are still non-compliant with a new rule that requires facilities to prove they can run generators for four days without power and keep inside temperatures at 80 degrees or less. It required that nursing homes submit their plans to the state by Oct. 31st and be in compliance with the rule by Nov. 15th, or else begin incurring a $1,000-a-day fine.
Emergency Rule 59AER17-1 is under legal challenge, but the rule is intended to prevent nursing home deaths like more than a dozen that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Irma, when facilities were without power. Those residents all died of heat-related causes when the facility in which they were housed did not have a working generator to keep the residents safe from the South Florida swelter.
As of Nov. 8th, there were still 18 facilities that had yet to offer up proof of compliance with the rule.
An administrative law judge ruled against the emergency order last month, finding the state failed to establish the measure was necessary to increase the self-sufficiency of nursing homes and assisted living facility sites in the event of an emergency. However, that ruling is being challenged by the state, and in the meantime, it still expects compliance.
The secretary for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued a written statement indicating the health and safety of vulnerable nursing home residents is of the utmost importance, and that those facilities that have yet to comply or respond to the state’s request will soon face sanctions.
Several nursing homes that are not in compliance say there is confusion about what exactly they are supposed to have in place. One said they do not disagree with Gov. Rick Scott’s premise about keeping nursing home residents safe in an emergency and prioritizing their well-being in a natural disaster. However, some say they are not sure the specific requirements. Some have sought a waiver, which has not been granted.
So far in connection with the deaths at the South Florida nursing home after the monster storm in September, numerous wrongful death lawsuits have been filed. They allege nursing home negligence in the course of both preparing for and responding to Irma.
Initially, officials identified 13 deaths that occurred in connection with the storm. The medical examiner’s office identified a 14th that had been missed. Now, relatives of an 86-year-old resident of the facility say she should be counted as the 15th. She had been in relatively good physical health prior to the storm, but rapidly deteriorated after spending those several days in extremely hot conditions with little relief. Family members say she was suffering an irregular heartbeat when she was rescued from the facility, and was subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia and died about two weeks later. Medical examiners have not yet listed her cause of death, which is still under investigation.
Staffers brought in fans and coolers, but did not call 911 for days after they had been grappling with no power. In fact, emergency officials were not called until patients began to suffer cardiac arrest.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Florida nursing homes ignored post-Hurricane Irma emergency power rule, Nov. 8, 2017, By Frank Gluck, The News-Press
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Judge Invalidates Florida Nursing Home Generator Rule, Oct. 31, 2017, Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Orlando Blog