October 4, 2017

In August 2017, after extended power outages caused by Hurricane Irma, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared an emergency rule, requiring that all senior housing facilities in the state of Florida have supplies and power to sustain operations for at least 96 hours after a power outage. Facilities must also have “ample resources, including a generator and the appropriate amount of fuel” to “maintain comfortable temperatures” over the same time frame.

59AER17-1 Nursing Home Emergency Power Plan
  1. Procedures Regarding Emergency Environmental Control for Nursing Homes. Nursing homes shall, within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of this emergency rule, provide in writing, to the Agency for Health Care Administration and to the local emergency management agency for review and approval, a detailed plan which includes the following criteria: (a) The acquisition of a sufficient generator or sufficient generators to ensure that current licensees of nursing homes will be equipped to ensure ambient temperatures will be maintained at 80 degrees or less for a period of a minimum of ninety-six (96) hours in the event of the loss of electrical power. (b) The acquisition and safe maintenance of sufficient fuel to ensure that in an emergency situation the generators can function to maintain ambient temperatures at 80 degrees or less for a period of a minimum of ninety-six (96) hours in the event of the loss of electrical power. (c) The acquisition of services necessary to install, maintain, and test the equipment and its functions to ensure the safe and sufficient operation of the generator system installed in the nursing home
  2. Each nursing home shall, within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this rule, have implemented the plan required under this rule.
  3. If the facility’s initial submission of the plan is denied, then the local emergency management agency shall report the denial to the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the facility within forty-eight (48) hours of the date of denial.
  4. Within ten (10) business days of the date of the local county emergency management agency’s notice of denial, the facility shall resubmit their plan.
  5. The county shall post all approved facility emergency management plans to their website within ten (10) days of the plan’s approval.
  6. Within forty-eight (48) hours of the approval of the plan from the local emergency management agency, the facility shall submit in writing proof of approval to the Agency for Health Care Administration.
  7. The State Fire Marshall shall conduct inspections to ensure compliance with this rule within fifteen (15) days of installation.
  8. Each nursing home facility shall develop and implement written policies and procedures to ensure that the facility can effectively and immediately activate, operate and maintain the generators and alternate fuel required for the operation of the generators.
  9. The Agency for Health Care Administration may revoke the nursing home’s license for failure to comply with this rule.
  10. In addition to other remedies provided by law, violation of this rule shall result in a fine or sanction of $1,000 per day.
  11. The facility shall implement policies and procedures to ensure that the health care facility can effectively and immediately activate and maintain the generators and alternate fuel required for the operation of the generators. Rulemaking Authority 400.23, 408.819, 408.821(4) FS. Law Implemented 400.23, 408.819, 408.821(4) FS. History 


This left many Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care facilities throughout Florida with only 60 days to update facilities, while some were also trying to regroup after damage or evacuations from the recent hurricane. C&P Executive Vice President and Senior Housing subject matter expert , Michael Lynch weighed in stating, “I think the main issue is the amount of time the governor has allocated for the facilitates to comply with his request of connecting the air conditioning for the common areas to the emergency generator.” In our experience, the typical time frame to secure an electrical engineer and put the various design specifications into place, coupled with the need to obtain proper permitting documents could easily exceed the 60 day time frame set forth. Lynch went on to say, “I’m hoping that the municipalities are coming from the same place (as the Governor) that this the right thing to do, and grant that administrative courtesy in order to adhere to the governor’s bigger vision.”

With over 400 municipalities in the state, there is some uncertainty about if all facilities will be able to logistically comply within the specified time frame. In fact, some have found it necessary to seek a waiver to the Governor’s Emergency Rule. Leading Age Florida recently held a call discussing the rule and the waiver process.

Audio discussion of the process for seeking a waiver to the Governor’s Emergency Rule. Click here to listen to the 52 minute discussion.

Cuhaci & Peterson is currently assisting some of our Senior Housing clients with this process and also has it in mind regarding projects that are currently in the design phase. With regard to how this new rule might affect projects Lynch’s design team will be working on in the future, he mentioned, “Our current design philosophy takes the air conditioning and generator issues into consideration already. We feel like with the climate we are in, here in Florida, it’s just the right thing to do.” As Florida nears the end of another hurricane season, Lynch said, “Educate, inform and practice their implementation plan for the emergency situation.” would be the advice that he would give to facilities moving forward, relating to being “storm ready”.

 

 

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