Nursing homes, assisted living facilities begin work to comply with Governor's order

Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills Florida, Photo Date: 9/13/2017
Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills Florida, Photo Date: 9/13/2017(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 19, 2017 at 5:45 PM EDT
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By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

September 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities both locally and statewide are scrambling to comply with new regulations put in place by Governor Rick Scott.

On Saturday, the Governor issued an order requiring that all must have working generators that are capable of powering the facility and providing air conditioning for at least 96 hours. This, after eight patients died at the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills last week. The facilities have 60 days to comply, or will face fines of up to $1,000 per day and possibly the suspension of their license.

Staff at Tapestry Senior Living Facility in Tallahassee agree that cool air is essential for patients.

"Cool air is important to ward off sickness, it's good for medication and oxygen," said Mackenzie Biehl, with Marketing Director at Tapestry.

The facility already has a large in-house generator, as well as several portable generators.

"We are equipped for emergency situations," said Biehl.

However, some changes will be required to comply with the new rule. Biehl said staff are currently working with an engineer to determine what changes need to be made.

"It's going to be costly for all assisted living and nursing homes, but it's a necessity," she said.

Kristen Knapp with the Florida Health Care Association has acknowledged that there will be lot of challenges.

"One 60 bed facility indicated it was a couple hundred thousand dollars," said Knapp. "There's local zoning, permitting plans and construction, the cost of a generator."

But, others aren't buying it.

"Absolutely they can afford them," said Brian Lee, with Families for Better Care.

Lee formerly worked as Florida's Long Term Care Ombudsman advocating for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. He points to a study by Genworth that says the yearly median cost for a bed at an assisted living facility is about $44,000. At a nursing home it's $92,000.

"Nursing homes are highly profitably and if they say they can't they're not telling the whole truth," said Lee.

He'd also like to see legislation accompany Scott's order.

Senator Lauren Book filed legislation on Friday that would require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have working generators.

In a press release she said, "There is no excuse for failing to protect those most vulnerable among us... We can prevent these things... and we must, for the sake of our senior citizens and their families."

The Florida Health Care Association will hold a Nursing Center Emergency Preparedness Summit on Friday at the University Center Club in Tallahassee at 10 a.m. to help facilities better understand and comply with the Governor's latest order.

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

September 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- As investigations into how eight people died at a south Florida nursing home continue, Rick Scott is ordering all of the state's adult living facilities to be generator equipped within 60 days.

Inspection reports from March by the Department of Health and Human Services show emergency call buttons didn't always work.

One patient was being showered only once every ten days.

As part of Scott's order, every nursing home is expected to have a generator and four day's fuel supply up and running within 60 days.

The state's nursing home association has planned a summit on the generators for Friday.

"There is local zoning, permitting and construction to discuss. And the cost of generators," said Kristen Knapp from the Florida Health Care Association.

In a statement, Rehabilitation Center administrator Jorge Carballo says the home was in compliance with current backup requirements, including ice and generator fuel. The home's generator did not power it's air conditioning.

Governor Scott moved last week to revoke the nursing homes Medicaid eligibility. In addition to how the home responded to the emergency, there are also questions about how state regulators responded to numerous calls from the homes administrator.