One of the most significant differences that stands out between nursing homes and assisted living communities after more than 106 different communities had reported emergency events during the winter storm that went through most of Texas: It is required by the state for nursing homes to have back up power where life-support systems are being used. However, there is no state requirement for any assisted living communities to have a permanent generator on-site at the facility.
The unusual winter storm caused 33 long-term care facilities to evacuate because of power loss. 30 senior living communities had to move their residents, and most stated that they did not have any backup power or generator. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission stated that they had event reports from 410 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities and 449 assisted living communities with other senior living facilities.
At the peak of the winter storm, Over 4 million people were left without power. Several assisted liv
ing communities in Texas had to relocate and evacuate their residents during this winter storm, but it was indicated that ready to deploy generators were on-site.
Long-term care facilities in Texas are required by law to report evacuations or transfers of residents to the HHSC. The agency requires all senior living operators to have emergency management plans in a case like this.
The generator problem caused by the winter blizzard reminded me of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017. The hurricane-related power outage resulted in the death of 12 residents due to exposure to environmental heat, which prompted the state of Florida to become the government at the time. Rick Scott asked all aided living communities and nursing homes in the state to have emergency generators and enough fuel to keep them running and maintaining a comfortable temperature.
After the provider group raised several legal challenges regarding compliance deadlines, the Standby Power Supply Act was signed into law in March 2019. Oklahoma and North Carolina have studied similar requirements but have not yet passed legislation.
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