Lee County senior community equipped with backup generators for Dorian

With a major hurricane approaching the state, there is a focus on elder care at senior nursing homes. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, 12 residents at a nursing home died after the facility lost power; officials said it didn’t have a backup generator. Since then, laws were passed to fix that type of problem from occurring at these facilities and communities.

We toured a new senior living community in Lee County Friday to see how its preparing for Hurricane Dorian.

At Amavida Living in south Fort Myers, the entire community is supported by three massive generators. With their combined power, they can keep this community going for more than a week with backup power.

The generators are powered by a combination of natural gas and diesel fuel. There’s a tank that holds 2,000 gallons, and they’re topping that off in case the storm comes this way.

Sharon Kranz lives at in the community, where there is independent living and assisted care, and she said she is not panicking over Dorian.

“I’m watching it,” Kranz said. “I’m not too diligent. I’m not real concerned about it.”

Kranz is personally thankful for the backup resources her community provides for her and her neighbors.

“My husband has certain health issues,” Kranz said.

After Irma, the state made it a regulation that communities like Amavida have backup power to keep seniors cool.

This was after 12 people died at a rehabilitation center in Hollywood, Florida when Irma knocked out the power, and temperatures soared.

A recent audit by the Agency for Health Care Administration show 60% of nursing homes in Florida still don’t have backup generators to keep air conditioners on after storms.

Colin Marshall, who is president of senior living management at Amavida said other communities without backup power are taking a big risk.

“It’s extremely alarming,” Marshall said. “We’re dealing with a fragile population.”

Amavida said its nursing team will be available to help residents 24/7 and a medical clinic operating to keep seniors healthy whatever the weather.

The state mandate said facilities must have enough backup power to keep an AC running for 96 hours. Ambient temperatures are to be kept at 81 degrees or cooler, a challenger Marshal said they are ready to meet regardless of where Dorian ends up.

“We would rather err on the side of caution,” Marshall said. “I would think we were more than cautious.”

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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