As Florida begins hurricane season amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) has detailed long term care facilities’ storm response plans and advised that the vast majority of Florida’s nursing centers have generators capable of protecting residents in the event of power outages.
Nursing centers across the state have been actively reviewing their emergency response plans, which provide essential guidance should a hurricane or other powerful storm approach their location. Currently, all 691 of Florida’s nursing centers have reported that they have generators onsite that can meet the requirements of the Emergency Power Plan Rule. See below for a breakdown:
- 74% of centers (511) have upgraded generators installed and fully approved
- 15% of additional centers (106) have upgraded generators onsite and are awaiting either completion of installation or plan approval, or both
- 11% of centers (74) have alternative power sources in place while they await final generator upgrades
- 8 of those centers have generators onsite but plan approvals are stalled due to permitting delays/denials from local municipalities
- Fewer than 10 centers are currently being evaluated by the Agency for Health Care Administration
“Long-term care centers do so much to protect the health and well-being of their residents when it comes to emergency preparedness,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed. “With our state’s care centers all having generators in place, their comprehensive emergency planning is further strengthened. This provides an added safety net during a complicated hurricane season in which COVID-19 precautionary measures still need to be emphasized.”
In addition, nursing centers are coordinating with local authorities on plans and procedures in the event that any centers must be evacuated – a delicate process under normal circumstances but a particularly challenging task amid COVID-19. Evacuation planning strategies involve reconfirming receiving facilities, ensuring transportation arrangements, and making staffing decisions based on whether a center is currently caring for COVID-positive residents or not. Centers are also readying themselves for potential shelter-in-place decisions, which would require added infection precautionary measures including the donning of masks and social distancing considerations for residents.
FHCA continues to maintain a strong partnership with the Governor, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Health, and the state Division of Emergency Management throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Our care centers have been performing heroically throughout this crisis,” Reed continued. “I think it’s important to recognize their efforts and also mention that our response, along with the collaboration we’ve had with Governor DeSantis, Secretary Mayhew, and Surgeon General Rivkees throughout this pandemic, has made a difference in our ability to save potentially thousands of lives.”
ABOUT THE FLORIDA HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION
The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation that serves nearly 1,000 members and represents over 500 long term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and sub-acute care, short-term rehab, assisted living and other services to the frail elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development and financial stability of its members. As Florida’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about the Florida Health Care Association, visit www.fhca.org.