Lawmakers discuss ALF and nursing home mishaps during Irma with executives

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis held a roundtable Friday to discuss issues that arose at assisted living facilities and nursing homes during Hurricane Irma.

Highland Lakes Assisted Living Facility at St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor went six days without power during the storm.

Temperatures quickly began to climb with no AC.

“That might be tolerable for like a day or two or maybe whatever, but not for day after day after day,” said Rob Shaw whose father is a resident.

Shaw took his father home with him.

He said administrators were not prepared for the storm.

“I had many conversations with her in person and on the phone.  Her bottom line was, ‘well, we’re not required by the state to have a generator to provide air conditioning,’” said Shaw.

Governor Rick Scott has ordered all ALF’s and nursing homes to have generators and fuel on hand after several people died at an ALF in South Florida.

St. Mark Village CEO, Doug Fresh, who was at the roundtable discussion, told 8 On Your Side that Highland Lakes ALF was prepared for the storm.  He blames Duke Energy for the misinformation.

“The first 72 hours we were good. We were basing decisions on information that we got from Duke Energy and the Duke Energy desk at the EOC office. That information was either wrong or bad,” said Fresh. “How many days longer, how many hours longer, and we could never get the real information. The information we got made us to decide to wait it out.”

Shaw said that’s no excuse.

“They like to point the finger at Duke, saying it was Duke’s fault, Duke’s fault, Duke’s fault and my point is simply that we never should have been there in the first place. With proper preparation, proper planning, they would have had air conditioning and power throughout with those generators,” said Shaw.

Fresh said following the Governor’s order, he has an engineer on site proposing what type of generator and the amount of fuel supply they’ll need to put in place.

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