Florida Gov. Scott signs bills mandating backup power for nursing homes

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP/WSVN) — Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation making it mandatory for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have emergency generators.

This comes after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, last year, leaving elderly residents in sweltering conditions, killing 14 of them.

After the tragedy, Scott put emergency rules in place saying nursing home facilities must have emergency backup generators and enough fuel to last 96 hours. Now, those rules have been signed into law. Facilities now have until July 1 to comply.

Scott signed SB 7028 and HB 7099 on Monday in Fort Myers, at a facility he said was prepared for such a tragedy. That facility was in operation for a full 81 hours before they got their power restored, and they were also able to take in other residents as well.

“The have about 450 residents here. Not only did they take care of their residents, their [generator] power, they used for 81 hours, they took care of the individuals here and took care of people that came in, that had to be evacuated from other places, including – I was talking to one lady that was the daughter of a resident here,” Scott said.

The law came too late for one man whose parents both died due to the tragedy. “We want justice. We trusted these people that are supposed to be professionally trained to save people’s lives,” he said.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has lost its operating license while a criminal investigation continues.

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