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This Press Release is from California Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

August 30, 2020

SACRAMENTO –As California faces another wildfire season, rolling blackouts, and potential public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)’s Senate Bill 1207 to require California nursing homes to have backup power for at least 96 hours during an emergency passed the Assembly today. The bill goes back to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before heading to the Governor.

Currently, state regulations only require nursing home facilities to provide very limited backup power for six hours in the event of an emergency. However, during the 2019 public safety power shutoffs (PSPS), many Californians were without power for more than 48 hours.

Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable during natural disasters and power outages. Evacuations can be challenging due to mobility limitations and dangerous amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, some residents rely on electrical-powered life support systems to stay alive, unsafe temperatures can be dangerous, and unrefrigerated medications put many residents at risk. According to a November 2019 report by the HHS Office of Inspector General, California nursing home residents are at an increased risk of injury or death during emergencies because all of the nursing homes it examined in high risk areas of the state repeatedly violated critical emergency preparedness standards.

Senate Bill 1207, the Nursing Home Resident Safety Act, will ensure that nursing homes are able to maintain safe temperatures and power for critical life-saving systems such as oxygen and dialysis during an emergency.

“The Nursing Home Resident Safety Act is critical to protecting our most vulnerable residents during an emergency. This bill will keep nursing home residents safe by ensuring nursing homes are able to maintain safe temperatures, keep food and medications cool, and operate life-saving equipment in the event of a power outage. This is especially critical amid COVID-19 when evacuations will be especially challenging for nursing home residents,” said Senator Jackson.

“Senator Jackson’s legislation will help save the lives of nursing home residents throughout California,” said Patricia McGinnis, Executive Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR). “It is critically important for nursing homes to have sufficient backup power to keep residents safe during extended outages that are so common today. Residents’ lives depend on it.”

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.