Lawsuits Against Florida Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities for Wrongful Death Following Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian caused considerable damage to Florida’s west coast and the Orlando area. Central Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities were forced to evacuate residents, and in the ensuing melee, resident injuries occurred. Unfortunately, some Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities were not prepared for Hurricane Ian.
If your loved one wrongfully died in a nursing home or ALF after Hurricane Ian, have our skilled nursing home negligence attorneys investigate the matter.
Florida’s nursing home laws require that skilled nursing and assisted living facilities are prepared for hurricane evacuations like these, and that Florida healthcare facilities safely and efficiently secure safe housing for their residents. Further, Florida healthcare facilities are required to have back up generators and emergency fuel on site to maintain operations and keep patients alive.
Statistics show that mortality rates in Florida nursing homes increase by almost 25% in the 30 days following a major hurricane. This increase in nursing home deaths due to a hurricane is unacceptable.
Our Florida nursing home abuse attorneys explain what Florida law requires, and, if necessary, how Florida nursing homes should have safely evacuated and relocated residents due to Hurricane Ian.
Free Hurricane Ian Nursing Home Injury Case Consultation
Injury or wrongful death due to a Hurricane Ian nursing home evacuation? Demand answers and justice.
Contact Senior Justice Law Firm today for a free case consultation: 888-375-9998
Florida Activated its Patient Movement Mission
In anticipation of Hurricane Ian, Governor Ron DeSantis has activated Florida’s Patient Movement Mission (DOH 4052). Florida’s Patient Movement Mission facilitates “the movement of patients in impacted areas where local health and medical systems are overwhelmed.” The Patient Movement Mission is a combined effort between the Agency for Healthcare Administration, FHA, FHCA, LeadingAge, Florida Senior Living and Florida Assisted Living Associations.
Some Tampa & Orlando Area Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities Evacuated
The Tampa Bay Times reports that multiple helicopters airlifted vulnerable patients from HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital, as well as area nursing homes, to evacuate from Hurricane Ian. Other gulf coast hospitals have cancelled elective surgeries, but remain open for emergency situations.
More than 35 nursing homes on Florida’s west coast have been evacuated as of 9/30/2022, according to AHCA. Most evacuated facilities relocate to other healthcare facilities in safer areas, or if a resident’s conditions permit, nearby hotels.
Orlando and Jacksonville Nursing Home Evacuations Due to Hurricane Ian
With Ian’s projected path to follow the heavily populated I-4 corridor into Orlando and up to Jacksonville, more long term care facilities in Central Florida and North Florida chose to relocate vulnerable residents in the face of Hurricane Ian. Even though the hurricane broke up over Florida into a tropical storm, an enormous amount of rain was dumped on the Orlando area, interrupting care to some Central Florida facility residents.
As discussed below, a determinative factor in whether a Florida facility gets evacuated is their emergency preparedness status. This is a dynamic, ongoing situation. To learn if your loved one’s nursing home or ALF has been evacuated, contact AHCA at 1-888-419-3456.
Has my Loved One’s Florida Nursing Home Been Evacuated Due to Hurricane Ian?
Unfortunately, AHCA’s website does not detail which Florida facilities have been evacuated. The best way to determine if your loved one’s nursing home has been evacuated is to call the facility. AHCA does not disclose that information to the public.
AHCA has activated the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS) for missing nursing home or assisted living facility residents. Special Needs Shelters, emergency room personnel, and emergency response personnel are able to utilize E-PLUS to emergently obtain a patient’s medical records in an attempt to find them. The system is not available to the public, but it is used by law enforcement and emergency personnel to locate missing or displaced persons after Hurricane Ian. If your family member is missing from a nursing home or ALF, contact the local police.
History Has Taught Florida’s Nursing Homes the Importance of Hurricane Preparedness and Safe Hurricane Evacuation
In 1985, Hurricane Elena forced the rushed evacuation of Tampa General Hospital. The ensuing relocation was chaotic. Following this, Florida’s hospitals were “storm-proofed” and equipped with back up generators to keep critical life-saving medical devices powered up, and to keep critical air conditioning units on. After this change in hurricane preparedness, Florida hospitals have handled most storms with ease.
Unfortunately, Florida’s nursing home industry has been more resistant to change. Despite housing the most vulnerable patient population in the state, Florida’s nursing homes were woefully unprepared for Hurricane Irma, which resulted in widespread loss of life. JAMA Health Forum reported a 25% increase in nursing home deaths a week after Irma came on shore in Florida on Sept. 10, 2017, and a 10% increase in mortality rates 30 days after landfall. Not only is back up power required for oxygen machines, but a continuous power source is necessary to keep the air conditioning functioning. The JAMA investigation found that many vulnerable nursing home residents died following Irma because the facility was too hot without A/C.
The conclusion was simple: Florida nursing homes have to be equipped to deal with power outages. If not, elderly patients will continue to die.
Florida Law on Nursing Home Back Up Generators, Emergency Air Conditioning, and Hurricane Ian Evacuation
Following Hurricane Irma, Florida lawmakers got tough on a lackadaisical nursing home industry.
Florida’s Emergency Environmental Control for Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes rule requires nursing homes and assisted living facilities have the ability to keep indoor temperatures at a level below 81 degrees for at least 96 hours after a power outage to prevent residents from becoming overheated.
Further, Florida law on nursing home hurricane preparedness requires that a nursing home have sufficient power to maintain critical medical devices (like oxygen machines, dialysis machines, and defibrillators), and if the facility is unable to keep resident’s safe, the nursing home must safely and timely evacuate to another healthcare setting.
Some Florida Nursing Homes were Still Unprepared for Hurricane Ian
Despite the strengthened regulations on hurricane preparedness, almost 300 Florida facilities were not in compliance with Florida law on hurricane evacuation and safety measures. In anticipation of Hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida, the Agency for Healthcare Administration has completed 296 onsite visits in Nursing Homes and ALFs that were previously identified as out of compliance with generator requirements.
During a webinar Tuesday morning with 650 assisted living providers, AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller expressed concerns about Florida’s long term care facilities’ preparation for Hurricane Ian in the event of power outages.
“In a state like Florida, we have to do a much better job of preparing and testing and doing these things regularly,” Marstiller said.
To ensure that local facilities can handle Hurricane Ian and the resulting power outages, AHCA has activated reporting in the Health Facility Reporting System. The HFRS requires that Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities correspond with the State, and provide their census, available beds, evacuation status, and generator status information. This detailed information allows the State of Florida to know that a nursing home is equipped to handle Hurricane Ian. If the facility is not prepared for power outages, or its generators are not functioning, the information reported to HFRS will trigger an emergency evacuation of the facility’s residents.
As of 9/28/22, 87% of Florida facilities have successfully reported into HFRS.
Emergency Contact Information for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Impacted by Hurricane Ian
Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration can be reached at 1-888-419-3456. The Assisted Living Unit can be reached at (850) 412-4304, the Hospital Unit can be reached at (850) 412-4549, and the Nursing Home Long Term Care Unit can be reached at (850) 412-4303.
Hurricane Ian Nursing Home Negligence Case Consultation
If your loved one was injured, or wrongfully passed away, due to Hurricane Ian, contact Senior Justice Law Firm today for a free case consultation: 888-375-9998.
Our narrowly focused nursing home neglect attorneys have extensive experience litigating cases arising out of a nursing home’s failure to navigate prior Florida hurricanes. We can help you investigate a potential Hurricane Ian nursing home wrongful death lawsuit.
For media quotes on the legal implications of Hurricane Ian on Florida’s long term care facilities, call 888-375-9998 or email us at Media@SeniorJustice.com.
Post updated 9/30/2022 9:30am EST« Previous PostNext Post »