TALLAHASSEE – As Florida lawmakers prepared to gather in the state capitol for the 2018 legislative session, AARP Florida urged lawmakers to embrace innovative solutions to the problem of providing emergency backup power for elder-care facilities in the aftermath of a major disaster.
AARP Florida Advocacy Manager Jack McRay sent a letter to all 160 state lawmakers urging them to require that all Florida nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have emergency backup power generators and fuel sufficient to provide emergency cooling to their facilities for 96 hours after a disaster knocked out power.
In September 2017, 14 frail residents of a Broward County nursing home died after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the home. Sweltering heat built up in the facility after air conditioning was lost. In all, there were evacuations of at least some residents from 79 nursing homes and more than 400 assisted-living facilities statewide in the aftermath of the storm.
In an AARP Florida Facebook Live event Jan. 8, Associate State Director for Advocacy Dorene Barker provided an update on where the emergency-generator issue stands in the 2018 Legislature as the session kicks off.
Here are questions asked during the Facebook Live event and Barker’s responses:
Where does the nursing home backup power legislation stand as the 2018 legislative session begins?
More than a dozen bills have been filed to address this issue. The provisions of the legislation vary widely. For a detailed analysis of the bills, please go to www.flsen.gov or www.MyFloridaHouse.gov and search bills in the 2018 Legislature on nursing homes.
What is AARP asking for?
AARP Florida is asking that:
Why is heat buildup such a serious situation for frail older people?
Does AARP believe elder safety in disaster is limited to the deaths in one nursing home in Broward County?
Some have suggested the generator requirement should only apply to large institutions. Where does AARP stand?
Is this just too big a job for elder-care institutions to tackle in the five months remaining before June 1?
Not at all. It would be unconscionable to put frail, vulnerable elders at risk in the 2018 hurricane season. We have seen what can happen. We must act to keep these vulnerable fellow Floridians safe.
Why not just evacuate frail residents from nursing homes that lose power?
For the frailest of the frail, evacuation is also a risk. Elder-care facility managers realize the risks of evacuation, and they plan to avoid this risk if they can. This is another reason why making onsite emergency cooling power available is so important.
How can our viewers learn more, and get involved:
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