The deaths of several elderly patients at a Broward County nursing home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, has left many questioning what facilities are required to do in the event of a natural disaster.
“We have been walking around since last Friday, to make sure everything was up,” said Ralph Marrinson, who owns five nursing homes in the county. By Wednesday morning, all but one of his facilities had had their power restored. Doors and windows at that facility remained open and residents were enjoying popsicles, inside as FPL trucks drove by.
“We have been in contact with FPL constantly and that’s all I’m going to say,” said Marrinson. “I’m not frustrated, I’m tired.”
Marrinson said generators have provided standby power for basic needs, but not for air conditioning for the entire building.
“What we have is the emergency power goes to the quarter lighting the kitchen, lighting the refrigeration,” Marrinson said. “We need make sure that we have ice and water and all the things we need to do so we can continue to maintain as much normalcy as possible.”
According to a spokesperson for the Florida Health Care Association, “nursing homes are required to have an alternate source of power”. Federal regulations require that the power maintain: temperatures to protect resident health and safety and for the safe and sanitary storage of provisions; emergency lighting; fire detection, extinguishing, and alarm systems; and sewage and waste disposal.
Facilities are also required to file an emergency management plan with their local authorities. That plan should include a transportation agreement in case of an emergency evacuation.
Meanwhile, for those who have loved ones in an assisted living facility or nursing home that remains without power, one health expert recommends taking action.
“If they have the ability to take them to their homes, they should do so,” said Dr. Eneida Roldan, CEO of FIU’s health care network. “If they have the ability to be able to evacuate them and transfer them elsewhere … that could be another option. It all depends on the needs of that particular patient.”
If you have a complaint you’d like investigated about the care of a loved one at a nursing home or assisted living facility, you can contact the Agency for Healthcare Administration at 1-888-419-3456.