A day after eight people died at an elder care facility in Broward County because of no air conditioning, there are still several assisted living facilities across other South Florida waiting for their power to be restored.
“Oh yes, it was hot,” said 91-year-old Hubie Goldberg.
Goldberg lives at Brookdale, an assisted living facility in north Boynton Beach.
He said his facility did a great job taking care of everyone before, during and after the storm.
“Management and staff did a super job. They were around four or five times a day checking on you,” said Goldberg.
Brookdale said they had extensive plans in place, along with backup generators and they additional generators. They even evacuated some of the patients.
However, Goldberg and his daughter Karen want to know who is responsible for making sure elderly patients get the care they need even when a natural disaster strikes.
“That is oppressive and they’re all in their own rooms without anybody to talk to because the hallways are actually hotter than the rooms,” said his daughter Karen Rapport.
Florida Power and Light says it is up to each county to identify the critical infrastructure functions.
“We work with them to figure out what those facilities are and work with them and address those facilities initially,” said Rob Gould with FPL.
No one from Palm Beach County would go on camera Thursday, however they explained that a critical designation must be limited to agencies and facilities that are critical to the county’s ability to respond after a disaster. This would include police, fire and hospitals.
That is why the county says elder care facilities are required to submit and follow a comprehensive emergency management plan or CEMP outlined by the Agency for Health Care Administration.
While they specify these facilities need to have a back-up power source, it doesn’t require that the back up power the AC.
However, it’s still unclear who is in charge of making sure that plan is sufficient and followed.
“Somebody has to step up and be responsible. I don’t know who it’s going to be, but it has to be somebody,” said Goldberg.
Florida State Representative Gayle Harrell said this will likely be discussed at the state level. However, as it stand now, she says the responsibility ultimately falls on the facility because AHCA requires that the plan addresses to the safety and health needs of the patients.