The state of Florida has a unique set of concerns related to how the elderly and those in nursing homes will be able to survive the aftermath of a hurricane. Large scale power outages can cause people who are already in a weakened state to be stressed further by extreme temperatures and an inability to access medical equipment and proper care.
A local news story for the Port St. Lucie area gave an overview of how government officials and emergency workers are preparing for the next emergency.
Concerns over what will happen to nursing home residents during a storm are addressed
There are 138 assisted living facilities and nursing homes on the Treasure Coast of Florida. A discussion with emergency workers and the local government in St. Lucie and Martin Counties reveals serious concerns about what will happen to people housed in the facilities the next time a disaster strikes the area.
The Indian River Emergency Management Director stated that he is concerned about the unique vulnerabilities of the population and their current plans may prove to be inadequate. All of the 138 facilities in the area are required to have some kind of emergency plan in place, but not all of them have generators or alternative sources of power to prevent blackouts that could last for several days after a severe storm. The state government has to pass laws and regulations to increase nursing home safety and preparedness, as individual counties cannot do so on their own. After multiple nursing home patients died in Broward County in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017, guidelines regarding generators and other emergency measures in facilities around Florida have become more strict. That hurricane alone caused over 30 nursing homes around the state to lose power.
The Treasure Coast has a lot of questions regarding how well a storm will be handled by administration, considering there are many new homes that have opened in the last few years and several others have recently changed management. This means that the facility and administrators have never experienced a storm yet. The Martin County Sheriff said if the facilities ever lost power in a storm or became unsafe, they would do everything possible to move patients to a more secure location. The general tone from all officials interviewed seemed to be one of confidence that they would be able to find some way to keep people safe during and after the next major storm, despite some uncertainties.
The duty to keep patients safe
Because nursing homes are expected to have plans in place to keep residents safe during an emergency, it is possible for them to be legally negligent if someone under their care is hurt or dies due to inadequate preparation. Some lawyers even specialize in nursing home abuse cases because these facilities routinely fail to provide adequate protection and healthcare services to their patients.
Talk to a lawyer after an incident at a nursing home in Port St. Lucie
There are attorneys available throughout the Treasure Coast area who can help you file a lawsuit against a nursing home. Contact the Law Office of David G. Simmons for more information about how a lawyer can help you.