About 300 Florida nursing homes have requested an extension of time to install mandated generators to keep buildings cool in the event of power failure.

Backup power became a requirement in the state following Hurricane Irma in 2017, but some facilities are not yet able to afford the generators.

Explaining the mandate

The state set the mandate for backup power in place for both nursing homes and assisted living facilities following the tragedy that took place at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Broward County. Around a dozen residents died there in sweltering conditions after Hurricane Irma knocked the power out.

Requesting more time

Out of the 686 licensed nursing homes in the state, 406 have requested variances because they could not comply with the Jan. 1, 2019, deadline for generator installation. There are also 3,083 licensed assisted living facilities that must meet the requirements for backup power. The state extended the deadline for another six months for approved requests.

Phasing in the requirement

The state phased in the backup generator requirement over time. Initially, facilities were to submit emergency management plans to show how they would obtain the generators as well as the fuel that would keep buildings cool for 96 hours after a storm. The deadline for plan submission was June 1, 2018, a date that signals the annual start of hurricane season.

Protecting patient rights

Nursing homes must provide the proper care for their residents in all respects, which includes appropriate emergency management. In a state such as Florida, where the weather is often hot and humid, good air quality and cool temperatures are essential for patients who are already dealing with debilitating illnesses.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have powerful legal teams to protect their interests, but residents are entitled to the protection of their rights under laws such as the Florida statute that mandates backup generators.