Gov. Rick Scott directed agencies Tuesday to begin the process of approving permanent rules that would require nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to add generators that can power air-conditioning systems.
The Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Elder Affairs last month issued emergency rules that called for the installation of generators within 60 days. The emergency rules came after residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a Broward County nursing home, died after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility's air conditioning.
Three industry groups, however, have filed legal challenges against the emergency rules. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities contend that it is unrealistic to require all facilities to add generators within 60 days. The challenges, which have been consolidated in one case, are scheduled to go before an administrative law judge Thursday.
In a news release Tuesday, Scott's office said a formal rulemaking process by the agencies “will permanently codify these life-saving measures and allow for extensive public comment through workshops and public meetings.”
Scott also has called for the Legislature to put generator requirements in state law. Eight residents of the Broward nursing home died Sept. 13, three days after the facility's air-conditioning system went out. Six other evacuated residents have subsequently died, according to Hollywood police.