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New Florida law protects nursing home residents from exposure

It is not an easy decision to allow a nursing home to take care and responsibility for an elder family member. However, these facilities in which people can receive full-time care with the vigilance of professional staff are often the best option for people with complicated medical needs or reduced mobility.

Florida law protects senior citizens against physical, mental and financial abuse from health care workers, nursing home employees and their own family members and friends. Now, there is a new protection for nursing home residents who may be affected by power failures.

The memory of bad weather conditions' effect on seniors in nursing homes is still fresh for many Floridians, including many in the state legislature in Tallahassee. A new law was proposed to ensure the safety of conditions for nursing home residents after a hurricane-related power failure caused excessive heat in a Hollywood nursing home.

Fourteen people died of exposure to heat after the loss of air conditioning at the Broward County assisted living facility in September 2017. The governor of Florida and other state politicians supported a rule guaranteeing more resilience for nursing homes' climate control. The bill recently became law with little debate.

House Bill 7099 requires backup power sources for cooling systems in nursing homes of all types, with caution for the lives of residents overruling some consideration for the cost to smaller operations. This gives the Department of Elder Services more ability to enforce safety in nursing homes.

Victims of nursing home negligence and abuse deserve to have their rights defended and a guarantee of safety in the future. An attorney can help seniors and their families prepare a case for damages and correction of bad practices that can endanger safety.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Florida Legislature 2018: What passed and what failed," March 14, 2018

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