Nursing homes have concerns about governor's executive order on A/C

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Across the state, healthcare administrators are raising concerns about their ability to comply with the governor's executive order requiring backup air conditioning for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

They say it's easier said than done.

After 10 residents died in a South Florida nursing home when it lost power due to Hurricane Irma, the governor is requiring all assisted living facilities and nursing homes to have the capacity for four days of generator-powered air conditioning.

"Anything that would help that facility take better care of my father and people like him is a good thing," said Rob Shaw, of Clearwater.

But the idea seems better on paper for some. In meeting rooms from Tallahassee to Tarpon Springs Friday, some questioned how easy it would be to backup.

"The smaller ALFs may not be financially able to do it," said Doug Fresh, the head of St. Mark Village. "That's not [us], but the small mom and pops, with 10-15 [residents], do they have the finances to do it, and who is going to patrol that?"

At a meeting held by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, several were concerned it's an unfunded mandate and costs could be passed from nursing homes to seniors and their families.

"We wouldn't want seniors that are residents, for their annual fees that they pay to stay in those facilities to go up," said Ann Marie Winter of the Area Agency on Aging.

Under the governor's order, state fire marshals will inspect each setup. Those not complying will be fined or lose licenses. Facilities have six weeks to submit plans.

"That is a very quick turnaround time for any of this depending on how you might have to permit," said Fresh. "We are looking at the largest generator available, on a trailer."

Some called for state funding, while Bilirakis said subsidies may be available. He also said there will be no extensions.

"We are still in the middle of hurricane season. God forbid we get another one," he said.