Florida Legislature after 14 people died at a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma.
The latest are identical bills filed Tuesday by state Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, and state Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale,
that give new teeth to Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program,
which records show has regularly turned up fewer complaints each year
under Gov. Rick Scott.
Many of the bills, including those of
Edwards and Farmer, require nursing homes and assisted living facilities
to have generators capable of powering air conditioning in the event of
a power loss.
Under Tuesday’s bills, the Ombudsman program, which
is supposed to look out for residents in Florida’s 683 nursing homes
and thousands of assisted living facilities, would be allowed to conduct
undercover operations inside nursing homes, posing as patients or
employees, to look for abuse and neglect.
say we’ll leave it to the industry, but I’m thinking I’m not liking
what I’m hearing back,” Edwards said. “I had to call too many county
commissioners and police departments post-storm to tell them to go by
and check on a facility.”
A Facebook post complaining about a lack of power at a facility in Sunrise led Edwards to notify city authorities, who checked on the Sunrise assisted living facility and found it had been without power for three days after Hurricane Irma.
said that experience led her to believe an Ombudsman’s office with
greater autonomy is needed if new generator regulations are to be
With the new legislation, the Ombudsman office would be contracted
out to a nonprofit entity rather than be a direct state agency, as it is
now. It would report its findings to the Agency for Health Care
Administration, which then could fine the facility between $5,000 and
$25,000, depending on the seriousness of the violation.
not everyone has common sense to call 911 in an emergency and evacuate
people to the hospital across the street,” Edwards said, referring to
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which is across the street
from Memorial Regional Hospital. “They have to get their act together,
they have to have a plan, and damn it, it’s ridiculous that we have to
mandate that people have to do that.”
The big boost to the state
Ombudsman program is unique among the many bills. Another novel portion
requires facilities to allow residents’ families to monitor them
electronically as a safeguard against abuse.
Similarities include a requirement that nursing homes and assisted
living facilities be treated as high priorities, like hospitals, when
utility companies are restoring power.
The multitude of other bills includes:
SB 284: Filed
by state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, this bill requires nursing
homes and assisted living facilities to have generators that can power
air conditioning in the event of a loss of power, and requires the
Agency for Health Care Administration to conduct an unannounced
inspection at least every 15 months to check and make sure the generator
is in working order. The bill requires facilities to have enough fuel
to power generators for five days.
HB 479: Filed
by state Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Lauderdale Lakes, this bill requires
an unannounced inspection by AHCA every four months. It also requires
nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators to power
air conditioning and enough fuel to last for five days.
Filed by state Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, this bill requires
AHCA to carry out an announced inspection each May before hurricane
season and requires facilities to have generators that can power air
conditioning and enough fuel to last four days.
SB 372: Filed by state Sen. Rene Garcia,
R-Hialeah, this bill would require generators to power air conditioning
and enough fuel for four days. It also requires AHCA to carry out an
announced inspection in May before the start of hurricane season.
Additionally, it requires the Public Service Commission to ensure that
utility companies treat nursing homes and assisted living facilities
with at least 50 residents that offer critical medical care as high
priorities, similar to hospitals.
HB 443: Filed
by state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, requires nursing homes and
assisted living facilities to have current contact information on file
with both residents and the state Long-Term Care Ombudsman. It also
mandates that residents be allowed to access personal records on file at
SB 830: Filed by Farmer, this bill is identical to HB 443.
Filed by state Sen. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, this bill requires all
health care facilities that provide overnight care — including nursing
homes and assisted living facilities — to have generators that can power
air conditioning and enough fuel for four days. The generators must be
able to maintain conditions throughout an entire facility.
Filed by state Rep. Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie, this bill establishes a
matching grant program, funded with $5 million every year through 2023,
so that facilities buying generators can get a dollar-for-dollar
matching grant from the state on a first-come, first-serve basis. The
grant is open to both public and private facilities.
HB 437: Filed by Lee as well, this bill requires facilities to have generators and enough fuel for seven days.
Filed by Slosberg, this bill adds new language to the state’s patients
bill of rights, requiring facilities to send an explanation for any
relocation in writing to both a resident and the Long-Term Care
The legislative session begins Jan. 9.
Full Article & Source:
New nursing home legislation would strengthen elder care ombudsman