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FHCA Presents Recommended Changes to Emergency Power Plan Rules at Agency Rule Workshops

Tallahassee, FL (Nov. 3, 2017) - Today, Florida Health Care Association testified before the Agency for Health Care Administration during a workshop to address the proposed Emergency Power Plan Rules for nursing centers and assisted living facilities (ALFs). In his statement, FHCA Chief Lobbyist Bob Asztalos presented a number of modifications to the emergency rules (requiring generators) that would strengthen the emergency procedures in nursing centers and ALFs to ensure residents are safe and have a cool place during a disaster. “Florida Health Care Association and its more than 550 nursing center members share the same goal as the Governor. Where we differ is on the process of getting there,” said Asztalos. “We seek to reach that goal in a careful, timely manner that ensures the work is done correctly and safely.” 

Changes proposed by FHCA include:

Requiring nursing centers and ALFs have generators to ensure cooling in sufficient areas of their facilities to maintain patient safety.  Compliance can be met through any combination of existing generators or acquisition or rental of new or supplemental power supplies, including transportable units. Continuing Care Communities (CRCs) and other campuses would be evaluated on their entire campus, as opposed to individual facilities. 

The required 96-hour supply of fuel may either be maintained onsite or secured through delivery arrangements.
Currently, a 72-hour fuel supply and storage area is the general standard for building codes, zoning laws, and the profession’s practice. Beyond this limit, zoning requirements in many areas become extremely stringent, particularly in residential areas. Centers must store 72 hours of fuel onsite and demonstrate a delivery contract for a minimum of 96 hours.

Adding procedures to ensure that each nursing home implement resident-focused procedures to ensure that residents do not experience complications from heat exposure, and that the center have a plan to transport residents to a safe facility if theirs can no longer meet the requirements of the rule.

Within two business days of plan approval, nursing centers and ALFs must begin the regulatory approval process to install the necessary generator. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) / Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) shall monitor the process to ensure there are no unnecessary delays.

In an Emergency Preparedness Summit hosted by FHCA on September 22, experts discussed the process of generator installation and onsite fuel storage.  Safe electrical integration, which means construction and new wiring in the center, must occur, and new safe, storm-resistant fuel tanks must be installed. This requires local and state permitting and inspections.  On average, it takes between six months and two years to complete the process of construction and permitting for generator installation.

“Eliminating residents’ risk of heat-related injuries should not be solved by putting them at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or fire resulting from work that is rushed or unsafe,” said Asztalos.

Asztalos urged the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Elder Affairs to immediately initiate negotiated rulemaking, pursuant to Florida Statutes 120.54(2)(d)1, on the ALF and nursing home emergency power plan rules.  “AHCA and DOEA should bring everyone to the table – including long-term care providers, generator company representatives, engineers, fuel experts, local emergency management personnel, and our federal partners. We owe it to the victims of Hollywood Hills and all our nursing home residents to make sure we do this right,” Asztalos continued. “Like the Governor has said, this needs to be about keeping residents safe, not about lawsuits. Let’s exit the courtroom and come to this negotiating table and work this out.”

Kristen Knapp, APR
Director of Communications
Florida Health Care Association
kknapp@fhca.org or (850) 701-3530