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Cooling in a Crisis


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness

The deaths of eight residents at a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home following Hurricane Irma, along with 50 nursing homes still without power statewide, have prompted many questions from 10News viewers regarding why nursing homes are not required to have backup power for air conditioning, according to Tampa television station WTSP

Former state Rep. Dan Gelber tried to create a mandate in 2006 forcing nursing homes to have backup generators strong enough to power air conditioners. A watered-down version of the bill that would’ve reimbursed nursing homes for generators passed the House, but failed in the Senate.

“Bureaucracies kill people more than anybody else,” Gelber says. “It’s hard to get an elected body to prepare for something we haven’t experienced as a tragedy.” Florida does require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have emergency management plans, which include plans for emergency power in the event of outages. However, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) says current law does not specify what the power source must operate.

In the case of Haines City Health Care Center, which did not have working air conditioning until Thursday afternoon, a backup generator kept some lights on and enabled the nursing home to plug in fans. A more powerful backup generator was delivered to the nursing home late Thursday.

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This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell, editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com. To read more about maintenance of emergency generators, visit https://www.facilitiesnet.com/10751FMD. To learn about emergency cooling planning, visit https://www.facilitiesnet.com/16690FMD.

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