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Backup generator deadline comes, yet most senior centers still don’t have one

Gov. Scott signs bill mandating backup power in nursing homes. (Office of Gov. Rick Scott)

If you have someone in a senior living facility in Florida, this might be alarming.

Right now, there are hundreds of nursing homes and retirement communities not in compliance with the law and lives are at stake.

The issue at hand is back-up generators and state officials are now scrambling to figure out a backup plan.

They are worried about a repeat of the tragedy at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center.

It's the start of the 2018 hurricane season, but according to a recently released report, the generators aren't in place in the majority of locations.

June 1 is when state law specified that was when senior living facilities in Florida were supposed to have backup generators.

But the State Agency for Health Care Administration says only 48 nursing homes and 91 assisted-living facilities have installed the equipment and had it inspected.

However, more than 600 locations are not.

Gov. Rick Scott wrote the law in the aftermath of the tragedy last fall at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

The investigation continues into more than a dozen deaths after Irma knocked out power there.

“Unfortunately, we had the mishap that happened in Hollywood and I think a lot of facilities are being crucified,” said Joseph Brown, campus director of Joseph’s Village, a senior living community in West Palm Beach.

Joseph’s had a generator before Irma, so Scott’s law isn't putting the complex in a crunch. But Brown says he knows many of his counterparts at other facilities who are trying to figure out where the money will come from for the mandatory generators.

“Not everyone is going to make it happen," Brown said. "I still think 99 percent of the nursing homes, will try to meet the requirement. If we don’t meet the requirement, we can’t be in business."

It’s not just installing the generators— it’s also having people on staff who know how to fix them if they break down.

CBS12 News spoke to two lawmakers in Palm Beach County who say the state needs to help make this happen, not just demand that it gets done.

For now, the best answer is grant deadline extensions to Jan. 1, 2019.

But that won’t help if Florida sees any big storms between now and then.

CBS 12 received this statement from the AHCA:

It is AHCA’s expectation that all assisted living facilities and nursing homes are actively planning for hurricane season and complying with the new rules put in place to protect the vulnerable population they serve. By June 1, 2018 facilities must have access to an emergency power source such as a generator for use during a power outage, have arrangements to bring a power source onsite when an emergency is declared, or evacuate if the facility is in an evacuation zone. Our expectation is that emergency power plans will be implemented by June 1 however the final rules do allow extensions until January 1, 2019 only if patient protections are in place to ensure safe temperatures at all times.
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