Nursing home wants to be on JEA's power priority list

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nursing homes facing a 60-day deadline to provide generators to power air conditioning to keep patients cool are calling on JEA to add elder-care facilities to the priority list when the power goes out.

Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency order to require generators at all nursing homes after eight patients in a Hollywood, Florida, facility that lost power during Hurricane Irma died. Since Scott's order, two more patients at that facility have died.

Members of the nursing home industry will hold an emergency summit in Tallahassee Friday to discuss the rules.

An I-TEAM survey Tuesday of the 70 licensed nursing homes in greater Jacksonville could confirm that only 25 currently have generators, and only some of those were large enough to run air conditioning. Some of the homes would not comment or did not return the News4Jax phone call.

Cathedral Care, a skilled nursing home facility in downtown Jacksonville that can house 120 people, has a generator. But when it lost power for several hours last week during the hurricane, staff members were concerned when they called JEA to see how soon power would be restored and learned nursing homes are not a priority for power restoration.

"Nursing homes, we’re not on that list," Cathedral Care's Sharon Brown said. "Hospitals were No. 1, and then it would go to fire and rescue stations and then police stations and substations, and then, after that, it would go by population."

Brown said that while they have generators, they can’t power everything in the facility. Some patients would have to be moved into hallways to access emergency power outlets.

"I told them I am not trying to be put in front of any of those others people on the priority list, but I do feel like skilled nursing homes should be put on the priority list," Brown said.

A JEA spokeswoman said nursing homes at this point are not in the first tier of priorities for power restoration, but that could change as JEA evaluates what happened in this storm.

Brown said JEA has assigned a case manager to work with Cathedral Care. That case manager can intercede and help the next time the power goes out.

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