Important headlines for June 4th – Florida's nursing homes

posted by Brian Mudd - 

Important headlines for June 4th  All things safety – From Florida's schools to nursing homes 

Bottom Line: These are stories you shouldn't miss and my takes on them... 

Excerpt: A government agency reports that most Florida nursing homes and assisted-living facilities do not have backup power despite new requirements enacted after a dozen people died in a sweltering center following Hurricane Irma. 

The state Agency for Health Care Administration says only 48 nursing homes and 91 assisted-living facilities have installed equipment and had state inspections as of May 25. The new rules that went into effect Friday require all facilities to have backup power for cooling for at least 96 hours. 

Gov. Rick Scott first directed the state to issue emergency rules requiring generators in long-term care facilities in the weeks after the tragedy last fall at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where an investigation continues into the residents’ deaths after Irma knocked out power. 

Following months of legal disputes between the state and industry groups that pushed back on the requirements, the Florida Legislature passed rules mandating that those facilities verify they have installed a working generator or alternate backup power source by June 1, the start of hurricane season. 

Yet under the rules, extensions can be granted for reasons including construction or delays in delivery, zoning, or regulatory approvals, provided the facility submits alternative cooling plans that can keep residents at safe temperatures for 96 hours. Obtaining an extension means that the facilities are still in compliance with the law, despite not having the backup power fully in place or not inspected. 

Hot Take: This is outrageous. In fact, it's outrageous that we're even having this conversation in the first place. Do emergencies discriminate based a calendar or how hard it might be to meet a mandate by a particular deadline? I maintain that any operator who even needed to ramp up their facilities to have to comply with the more specific mandate for providing safe temperatures shouldn't have been in business in the first place.  

Without completely reliving the horror of what happened at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills – in the wake of it we learned that that there were failures on at least three different levels given the existing state regulations/mandates. Important as it applies to this conversation... The existing state laws and regs before the failure at Hollywood Hills stated that safe temperatures not to exceed 81 degrees be maintained at all times, aside from "brief periods" during an emergency. And even then, the language cited that every effort must be made to create safe temperatures as quickly as possible. Now, if you're an operator in Florida, is there any possibility that you could ensure compliance with maintaining a temperature of 81 or less without a comprehensive generator/backup power supply system?  

For all of the operators who didn't have them already in place they were cutting corners rather than operating in the spirit and practicality of the law in Florida – let alone the safety of those they're supposed to be caring for in their facilities. I don't buy the argument that some operators can't afford to comply. If you can't afford it, you don't have a model that's worthy of operating in the first place. Safety is the cost of doing business in this case and we've seen what can happen when it's not the priority.  

Hot Take: Highlights of the plan... As outlined by Broward school superintendent Robert Runcie on Friday... 

  • Single Point of Entry measures will be completed for all schools by the end of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019 

  • Reviewing discipline policies and programs (with an eye towards changing existing policy) 

  • An Independent security firm is to conduct risk assessments for all District schools 

  • At least one School Resource Officer or school safety officer will be provided for every school for the 2018-2019 school year (new requirement under state law) 

  • Active assailant training will be implemented 

Is it enough?  

Until tomorrow...     

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