Many Florida nursing homes still not properly equipped with backup generators

Regulations made after people died when facility lost power in Hurricane Irma

By Kelly Wiley - I-TEAM reporter, John Couwels

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The deadline for nursing home facilities to get properly equipped with backup power supplies was before the 2018 hurricane season, and according to a new website, dozens of nursing homes and assisted living facilities still are not equipped with backup generators.

Florida launched the website to monitor generators in nursing homes and long-term care facilities as Hurricane Dorian gets closer.

The state demanded safety improvements after 12 people died when Hurricane Irma knocked out power at a Hollywood Hills nursing home in 2017. Police reports state their deaths were ruled “homicides resulting from heat exposure due to environmental issues.”

The facilities must have an emergency power plan to make sure air conditioners keep temperatures under 81 degrees.

Records from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration show in Duval County, only one facility, Peterson Assisted Living Facility, did not have its generator status updated with the state. In May, inspectors wrote "a generator was observed on the property," but, "was still being installed and was not yet operable."

LINK: Check your loved one's living facility

News4Jax visited the facility. The facility's owner, Mary Peterson, said their generator is installed and working ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

"I feel like we are safe as far as electricity. It serves the whole building," Peterson said.

To date, the state has fined 287 facilities for not following emergency power rules. Of those facilities, 12 were in Jacksonville and two were in Clay County.

In a statement, Mary Mayhew, the ACHA secretary, told News4Jax:

“Our Agency remains committed to making sure long term care facilities can support safe conditions during loss of power. Currently, 80 percent of Florida's nursing homes and assisted living facilities have permanent generators onsite and 96 percent have either a permanent or temporary generator onsite, plans to have a temporary generator delivered, or a full evacuation plan in case of a power outage. Agency staff are also conducting outreach activities for facilities without current generator information.” 

2019 WJXT / The-CNN-Wire