TALLAHASSEE, FL — Florida Argentum today urged the state’s senior living industry in Florida to take community preparations for Hurricane Irma very seriously. The association represents companies that operate professionally managed senior living communities (independent, assisted, and memory care) and industry partners that serve senior living operators in the state of Florida. The following points are emphasized for the safety of the state’s elderly senior living residents:
- Communities should finalize all hurricane preparations today or at the very least by Friday.
- If a facility evacuates, the process should be at or near completion. Traffic congestion is already heavy due to evacuations from South Florida.
- Ensure staff has taken steps to protect their families and their homes. If their families or homes are impacted, they won't be available to care for residents.
“We’ve helped our members weather a number of storms in the past and we will work non-stop to help them through this massive hurricane,” said Gail Matillo, Florida Argentum’s President and CEO. “If you have a senior living community and you need help, contact us immediately.”
Several resources are available to the state’s assisted living communities:
Agency for Health Care Administration Disaster Call at 1 pm EDT Daily – NOTE: NEW PASSCODE
All administrators and owners of Senior Living Communities are invited to participate in a daily call with Deputy Secretary Molly McKinstry of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). The conference call will be held everyday at 1pm EST, including over the weekend, to discuss the potential threats and problems related to Hurricane Irma.
The conference call has a limited number of lines so participants should be administrators and owners to allow all communities to participate. To ensure the conference starts promptly, please dial in 5 minutes prior to the start time using the following information:
US Toll free: 1-877-686-1650
Once connected, please place your phone on mute. You may hear music until the conference begins. After initial remarks, the operator will give instructions so you can unmute your phone for questions. If you need assistance during the conference, press *0 and a conference coordinator will assist you.
Facility Evacuation and Re-occupation
Communities must evacuate if directed to do so by the local emergency management agency and may not return until the area is cleared for re-entry by the local emergency management agency or its designee and the community is able to meet the immediate needs of the residents.
Communities that sustain significant structural damage must relocate residents until the community can be safely re-occupied. Communities are encouraged to prepare an emergency voicemail message with administration contact information or forward calls to a monitored phone number. The community is responsible for knowing the location of all residents at all times and must provide AHCA, through FLHealthSTAT, with the name of a contact person who must be available by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until the facility is re-occupied.
A primary goal for Florida will be the rapid restoration of local businesses that provide vital goods and services. Initially, only individuals and businesses providing essential commodities and services to impacted areas will be allowed re-entry. Local elected officials and law enforcement officers will work together to determine when an area is safe enough for individuals to return.
Re-entry requires the following information:
- A valid government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport;
- Proof of employment, such as employer credentials or a letter on employer letterhead; and
- A demonstrated need to enter the area, such as a work order, inventory list or employer authorization.
Businesses can receive updated information regarding the transportation and distribution of essential commodities during a state of emergency declared by the Governor by registering in advance with the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center at www.flvbeoc.org .
Nursing Information: Wound Care, PRNs and other Special Services
Staff nurses can provide residents with additional services and assistance up to the scope of their licensure during the emergency. Staff is encouraged to get copies of residents’ doctor’s orders from home health agencies so staff nurses can continue to perform those services.
Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana have indicated they will recognize a Florida nurse license for out-of-state evacuees.
Communities are urged to place all medication orders with their pharmacies by Friday morning. Teams should be conscientious of the med cart keys and locations as access to pharmacies may be limited or non-existent. If communities relocate, MARs/MORs must accompany medications.
New Home Health Services Information
AHCA has received inquiries about the provision of home health services to residents of senior living communities and/or adult family care homes and has provided the following reminder or clarification of the regulatory requirements:
59A-8.027(10), F.A.C. – During emergency situations, when there is not a mandatory evacuation order issued by the local Emergency Management agency, some patients may decide not to evacuate and will stay in their homes. The home health agency must establish procedures, prior to the time of an emergency, which will delineate to what extent the agency will continue care during and immediately following an emergency. The (home health) agency shall also ascertain which patients remaining at home will need care from the home health agency and which patients have plans to receive care from their family or caregivers. The (home health) agency shall designate staff to continue the services specified in the treatment orders to residents in the assisted living facility or adult family care home during and following the emergency. If the assisted living facility or adult family care home does relocate the residents to another assisted living facility or adult family care home within the geographic service area the home health agency is licensed to serve, the agency will continue to provide services to the residents, except in certain situations as specified in Section 400.492(3), F.S. If the residents should go to a special needs shelter outside of the geographic service area the home health agency is licensed to serve, the home health agency may provide services to the residents at the shelter pursuant to Section 400.492(4), F.S.
400.492(3), F.S. – Home health agencies shall not be required to continue to provide care to patients in emergency situations that are beyond their control and that make it impossible to provide services, such as when roads are impassable or when patients do not go to the location specified in their patient records. Home health agencies may establish links to local emergency operations centers to determine a mechanism by which to approach specific areas within a disaster area in order for the agency to reach its clients. Home health agencies shall demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of this subsection by documenting attempts of staff to follow procedures outlined in the home health agency’s comprehensive emergency management plan, and by the patient’s record, which support a finding that the provision of continuing care has been attempted for those patients who have been identified as needing care by the home health agency and registered under s. 252.355 , in the event of an emergency or disaster under subsection (1).
Florida Argentum Staff
Gail Matillo: 850-496-2562
Susan Anderson: 850-708-4971
Lisa Murray*: 850-708-4972
Communities are encouraged to notify Florida Argentum of relocations so staff can continue to provide support and assistance.
*Habla español si tienen preguntas o necesitan ayuda y no hablan inglés
Agency for Health Care Administration
AHCA Office – 850-412-4304
Deputy Secretary Molly McKinstry: office – 850-412-4420; cell – 850-519-3560
Bureau of Health Regulation – 850-412-4402
Bureau Chief Kim Smoak: office – 850-412-4516; cell – 850-559-8273
AHCA Home Health Bureau
Dale Mooney – 850 228-641