NPR’s Michel Martin talks with reporter Elizabeth Koh about how Florida nursing amenities are getting ready — or not — for intense hurricanes.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now staying right here in Florida, residents could also be spared a direct hit from Dorian, however forecasters say harmful storm surges, hurricane-force winds and energy outages are nonetheless anticipated. For Floridians, the reminiscence of Hurricane Irma two years in the past remains to be contemporary, partially as a result of at the very least 84 individuals within the state died because of the storm. Twelve of these deaths occurred at a nursing residence in Hollywood, Fla., close to Fort Lauderdale after the storm knocked out energy to the power’s air-con system. On Tuesday, 4 staff of the middle had been charged with aggravated manslaughter in reference to these deaths.
That tragedy raises the query of whether or not the state is best ready right now, particularly in caring for weak residents. A Miami Herald report discovered that a whole lot of nursing properties don’t meet new necessities put in place since Hurricane Irma. Miami Herald reporter Elizabeth Koh is with us now from Tallahassee to inform us extra.
Elizabeth, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.
ELIZABETH KOH: Thanks for inviting me.
MARTIN: So, Elizabeth, has the state taken steps since Hurricane Irma to make sure that amenities like nursing properties can proceed to take care of residents within the occasion of a significant hurricane? Are they prepared?
KOH: The largest factor that the state did after Irma was to move rules final 12 months shortly after the storm hit to say that nursing properties and assisted residing amenities wanted backup energy, particularly for his or her air-con, which is the place the Hollywood Hills nursing facility failed. The rules name for extra gas storage along with highly effective turbines that may preserve these temperature amenities working. And that was supposed to enter implementation originally of final 12 months’s hurricane season.
MARTIN: Final 12 months’s hurricane season – so did it? I imply, are these amenities prepared?
KOH: A whole bunch of amenities wanted extra time. They cited delays with native governments that required further permits, backlogs and contractors, problem getting the tools put in. Once we’re speaking about giant nursing residence amenities, we’re speaking about some fairly highly effective, substantial turbines that want concrete pads to sit down on, issues like that. So the state gave them an extension till the tip of the 12 months.
MARTIN: So do you’ve gotten a way of whether or not the workers at these amenities and the households of the residents – do they really feel ready for the storm?
KOH: That is one thing that the state is attempting to examine. Sadly, as we realized in Irma, that is one thing that may be tough to find out with full certainty. The Hollywood Hills nursing facility, as we mentioned, is a facility that had a generator on the premises. It simply did not energy their air-con. It had an emergency plan, like a number of nursing residence amenities have now. However that was a plan that wasn’t very totally vetted by county officers.
So the query of how secure nursing residence amenities truly are – that is one thing that we’re seeing native officers do website checks and calls to see if they will set up generator statuses at numerous amenities and make sure the security of residents. However in case you are involved a few member of the family who’s at a facility, it is price calling and checking and asking how they’re getting ready for this storm.
MARTIN: Are there every other classes that the states realized from the tragedy that occurred in Hollywood Hills? Is there any – are there every other steps that they are taking to offer the general public confidence that one thing like this may not occur once more?
KOH: They’ve put out a brand new web site – it is fl-generator.com – that offers the general public a chance to take a look at what sort of generator standing is on file with the state – whether or not they have a completely put in generator, whether or not it is a momentary generator on website, off website. In order that’s a useful resource for the general public.
The state has additionally promised that they are going to do spot checks after the storm to be sure that amenities which have gotten turbines have these turbines up and working. We have been instructed that the state has stockpiled further turbines in case a few of these turbines fail in order that they’ve backups. And we’re instructed that the Division of Well being can be serving to with that, too – the State Division of Well being.
MARTIN: That was Miami Herald reporter Elizabeth Koh becoming a member of us from WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla.
Elizabeth, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us, and thanks in your reporting.
KOH: Thanks very a lot.
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