Oklahoma House of Representatives
February 24, 2010
Committee Clears Bill Requiring Generators for Assisted Living Facilities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Joe Dorman
Capitol: (405) 557-7305
OKLAHOMA C IT Y – Legislation requiring assisted living facilities to have an alternate source of power in case of a power outage has passed out of a House committee.
House Bill 3224, by state Rep. Joe Dorman , would authorize the Department of Health to promulgate rules to require assisted living facilities to have an alternate power source and new facilities to have a backup generator.
“The ice storm knocked the power out of rural communities throughout the state,” Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said. “I am trying to find ways to help improve our response to natural disasters. One way is to require assisted living facilities to have alternate power sources so vulnerable residents continue to have access to important medical equipment requiring electricity and warmth.”
The House Public Health Committee passed the legislation 11-7 and amended its effective date to a later time.
“Obviously, pushing back the date makes the legislation ineffective for those currently in an assisted living facility,” Dorman said. “I don’t fully understand the opposition to this simple measure, but I plan on changing back the date and hope lawmakers will support the legislation on the House floor to allow the Department of Health to implement this at a reasonable date.”
Dorman stated this was a request from an individual in southwest Oklahoma who had a relative in a facility which experienced a power outage in the most recent ice storms to hit Oklahoma .
“Honestly, I do not understand why any respectable facility would not already have some plan in place to protect those they serve,” said Dorman. “I am certain many do have a response plan, but I feel this is a critical need to have in place and I would hope this would be one of the questions asked by potential residents to any long-term provider on what efforts are in place to plan for a disaster.”
Dorman said he has also been working with emergency management officials and plans to have further meetings to suggest ideas on how best to prepare Oklahomans for disasters. A group of emergency management officials ranging from local levels to the federal government were gathered to brainstorm on funding mechanisms for disasters and assist with ideas for preparation
“Our recent meeting to discuss ideas on how best to plan for disasters was a huge success,” Dorman said. “In our state with the wide variety of weather patterns, it is not a matter of “if” a weather-related disaster will happen, but when will something strike and how well we are prepared.”
Much confusion arose following storms in Oklahoma in regards to types of response from the state and federal government.
“FEMA does not currently reimburse individuals for the cost of purchasing a generator, but I hope we will see some assistance program in the future to aid the purchase of such items like we have had in the past,” Dorman said. “I think it is important we do all we can to make sure the best course of action is taken when these disasters strike and that includes ensuring businesses who serve our most fragile citizens meet critical needs.”