Florida Senator Bill Nelson criticized Governor Scott indirectly over the nursing home deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
In his speech on Monday, he called the incident a “great tragedy.” He said press reports indicated the government and the power company ignored the facility’s phone calls for help.
Sen. Nelson said, “We don’t know all the facts. It’ll come out in the criminal investigation. It is inexcusable that eight frail elderly people would die over heat exhaustion…”
Additionally, he questioned the state government’s lack of regulation that requires facilities to have a generator. He also noted, “The hospital right across the street had it. So, what was the disconnect there?”
Last week, Sen. Nelson said Gov. Scott needed to “crack the whip” to ensure that nursing homes have appropriate emergency plans. He described the nursing home deaths as “an emerging scandal of gargantuan proportions.”
Florida Governor implements new emergency rules
On Saturday, Florida Gov. Scott issued new emergency rules for assisted living facilities (ALF) and nursing homes. His move came due to criticisms over the deaths of eight elderly residents at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
The eight senior citizens died after suffering in the sweltering heat for three days in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
He directed the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and Department of Elder Affairs to ensure that all facilities comply with the new emergency rules.
Under the new regulation, all facilities must have sufficient resources including a generator. Facilities must have enough fuel to maintain operations and comfortable temperatures for at least 96 hours after a power outage.
Additionally, the state Fire Marshall must inspect the generators within 15 days of installation in the facilities. Local emergency management officials must approve or deny their emergency plans. Within 48 hours of receiving approvals, facilities must submit proof of compliance with the emergency rules to AHCA and Elder Affairs.
Furthermore, facilities that will not comply with the new regulation will face penalties including a fine of $1,000 per day and revocation of license.
Gov. Scott says he us fighting to keep elderly safe
In a statement on Saturday, Gov. Scott emphasized that he is “aggressively fighting to keep vulnerable residents safe during emergencies.” He expressed “outrage” over the deaths of the elderly.
Because of the tragic incident, he “demanded answers” from the nursing home. He wants to know why its staff delayed calling 911 and evacuating the patients.
During emergencies, health care facilities must be fully prepared to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of patients, said the governor. He also stressed, “There is absolutely no excuse not to protect life.”
On Friday, the nursing home claimed they called the governor’s emergency hotline for help. According to them, Gov. Scott and the Florida Power & Light ignored their pleas for help. The facility is facing criminal investigation.
Florida has the largest number of senior citizens in the U.S.
Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida has the largest number of senior citizens.
On the other hand, the CDC said people 65 years and older are prone to heat-related health problems.
The Florida Department of Elderly Affairs said thousands of frail Floridians reside in assisted living facilities. The new emergency rules became effective on September 16.