TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As Hurricane Michael eyes the Florida Panhandle, some of the most vulnerable residents will be those living in nursing homes. Last year, Hurricane Irma knocked out power to a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. Without a functioning generator, 14 residents died.
Gov. Rick Scott is warning facilities to prepare in order to avoid a similar tragedy.
"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient. Take care of them," Scott said. "That means you need to make sure that you have back up generation power or you shouldn't be taking care of the patients."
Earlier this year, he signed legislation requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to install generators. By June 1, they were required to have equipment that keeps indoor temperatures below 81 degrees and maintain power for 96 hours after an outage.
But in counties threatened by Michael, almost half of 412 facilities did not meet the deadline to install or set up new generators, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Most have been granted extensions to the deadline, including Brookdale Centre Pointe Boulevard.
Brookdale's Alicia Turner said a larger generator will be installed by January. In the meantime, she said the current generator should be enough to keep their 18 residents safe.
"We have a backup generator ready to go and deploy here with the technicians available for when we need it," Turner said.
Facilities like Brookdale had to prove they could still keep people safe to get an extension. Demand for labor and supplies is part of the problem. The wait for generators that comply with the new law is anywhere from 16 and 24 weeks.