A full 100 percent of Citrus County’s nine nursing homes are in compliance with the state’s emergency power mandate that went into effect June 1.
That means if another hurricane rolls through cutting power to those facilities, they will have enough back-up power -- such as an on-site generator -- to provide staff and residents 96 hours worth of air conditioning.
But of the county’s 24 assisted living facility (ALF) providers, 14 (or 58.33 percent) have complied, according to the latest data from the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).
By contrast, AHCA data shows 100 percent compliance in Florida among all 684 statewide nursing homes. And 1,722 out of the state’s 3,097 ALFs have met the mandate’s requirements, for a 55.60 percent compliance rate.
Gov. Rick Scott proposed the emergency power plan rule following the deaths last year of a dozen elderly people in a Hollywood Hills nursing home during and in the weeks following Hurricane Irma. 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.
Florida is one of the first states in the nation to require emergency generators at all nursing homes and ALFs.
AHCA spokeswoman Mallory McManus said ALFs not in compliance could mean they are not able to provide backup power for 96 hours should another storm knock out power.
AHCA, she said, is diligently working with those facilities to meet the letter of the law and get them in compliance. It could be something as simple as failing to document the emergency plans with the agency, she said.
“The agency is working through them now,” she said.
Facilities that fail to comply are subject to fines or sanctions of up to $1,000 a day and revocation of their license to operate in Florida.
The state is tracking when facilities report implementing their emergency power plan, when local emergency management agencies approve the plans, and when fire marshals or the agency’s office does site visits.
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A random check of local facilities shows many of these facilities have some kind of generator on site but still requested compliance extensions to Jan. 1, 2019, as permitted by the state. That mirrors the rest of the state, where 524 nursing homes and 1,027 ALFS filed extensions, as of Thursday.
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.
James Robinson, administrator with Sunflower Springs, said his facility has a generator in place capable of meeting the state’s guidelines. The company still signed the extension.
“We have a generator, the emergency plans have been approved and we are in compliance,” he said. “We are ready to rock and roll.”
Dan Jones, administrator with Arbor Trail, said his facility has two on-site generators and still chose to go the extension route.
Facilities that have filed extensions must have plans that include:
--Bringing a temporary generator onsite during power outages
--Contracting for priority fuel replenishment during a power outage
--Moving residents to common areas that can be cooled with an existing generator
--Evacuation if needed.
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Daisy Dashnau, office assistant at Inverness’ Crown Court ALF, said not only did her facility install a generator four or five months before Hurricane Irma but the owner has his own fuel truck to keep everything powered up.
Acting early helped owners avoid any price increases that went into effect after the state order came down, she said.
Polly Sheppard, administrator of Pleasant Grove Manor ALF, said workers recently finished installing a backup generator there and at its two sister facilities: Crystal Gem Manor ALF and Sugarmill Manor ALF. The cost varied based on the size and demands of each ALF but she estimates her parent company spent $18,000 to $20,000 per location.
Price-wise, that is not bad.
AHCA said it will cost Florida nursing homes more than $186 million to comply with the generator requirement. The agency based its estimates on information provided from the nursing home industry, which said the costs for a generator at a 120-bed facility would be $315,200. Using those figures, AHCA estimated the average cost per bed at $2,626.66.
Sheppard said her generator will be used to take care of the ALF common areas, such as the kitchen dining room and sitting room. She’s just awaiting final approval from the county’s emergency management office and fire inspection.
“Then we’ll be ready to roll,” she said.
Sheppard said the money is well spent and not only for the safety of staff and residents. It also should give people an added confidence when shopping around for an ALF, she said.
Information from The Associated Press and News Service of Florida was used in this report.
Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.