Gov. Scott: I Am Aggressively Fighting To Keep Vulnerable Floridians Safe During Emergencies
NAPLES, Fla. – Today, following the tragic deaths of eight people at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Broward County, Governor Rick Scott is directing Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Justin Senior and Florida Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Jeffery Bragg to issue emergency rules to keep Floridians safe in health care facilities during emergencies. Pursuant to the emergency action, within the next 60 days, all assisted living facilities (ALFs) and nursing homes must obtain ample resources, including a generator and the appropriate amount of fuel, to sustain operations and maintain comfortable temperatures for at least 96-hours following a power outage. This is based on standards already in place at all hospitals in Florida.
The emergency action also requires:
- State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis to conduct inspections of these generators within 15 days of installation at the facilities;
- Local emergency management officials to either approve or deny the emergency management plans already required to be submitted to them by law from residential healthcare facilities to ensure it sufficiently protects life;
- Each local emergency management agency must post all approved facility emergency management plans to their website within ten days of the plan’s approval; and
- Facilities must submit proof of compliance with the emergency rules to AHCA and Elder Affairs within 48-hours of each plan’s approval.
Governor Scott said, “Assisted living facilities and nursing homes serve our elderly and Florida’s most vulnerable residents, and so many families rely on the health care professionals at these facilities to care for their loved ones. I am outraged over the deaths of eight Floridians at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Broward County and I am demanding answers as we furiously investigate this terrible loss of life. We must understand why this facility delayed calling 911 and evacuating patients and their decision to keep their patients in danger. During emergencies, health care facilities must be fully prepared to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of those in their care and there is absolutely no excuse not to protect life. The inability for this nursing home in Broward County to protect life has shined the light on the need for emergency action. Failure to comply will result in penalties, including fines up to $1,000 per day and the possible revocation of a facility’s license.
“As ANY health care provider knows to do, if their patients are in danger – they MUST call 911. Around our state, thousands of nurses and health care professionals are rising to the challenge that Irma has presented to Florida. These individuals are heroes to the countless Floridians they serve and I am so proud of their work. Our state agencies, community partners and health care associations are also working together to shift resources in real-time to and from facilities with power to those without as power restoration continues. However, we must absolutely make sure there are laws in place to keep all vulnerable Floridians safe. I will stop at nothing to protect Floridians.”
If family members have concerns regarding their loved ones in these facilities, they can call the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Consumer Complaint Hotline at (888) 419-3456. The state will continue to work aggressively to get people in safe places with electricity, food and water. Failure to comply with the emergency rules will result in penalties including fines up to $1,000 per day and the possible revocation of a facility’s license. Governor Scott also announced that he will aggressively fight for legislation to put this requirement into law in the 2018 Legislative Session.