I’ve written several blogs lately about the presence of generators at Florida facilities. Or to be more accurate, the lack of them.

According to recent reports, more than 1,000 senior living operators in the Sunshine State still do not have back-up generators on the premises.

It’s hardly an idle topic. After all, it was nearly a year ago that more than a dozen residents died in one facility after a hurricane ripped through. Without getting too grisly about the details, the residents perished because their aged bodies were unable to cope with the sweltering heat that followed.

Would working generators have saved them? Probably, but we’ll never know. What we know beyond a doubt is that the residents are now dead.

It’s probably also a safe bet that by the time the resulting lawsuits are settled, purchasing generators will look like a real bargain in comparison.

I have a friend who says problems that can be solved with money are not really problems. He also happens to be quite wealthy. So yes, that’s easy for him to say.

I used to think he was full of it. Lately, I’m wondering if maybe he’s on to something. Because at its core, the generator challenge in Florida really comes down to money.

Many Florida facilities do not have generators because they are either unable or unwilling to bear the hefty purchase and installation costs.

A reader who prefers to remain anonymous offered a possible solution to this problem. And I think it’s brilliant.

But first, some context. If you have bought a mobile phone lately, your carrier may be offering a new option. Instead of paying the entire cost of the device up front, you may be able to have the payments stretched out, say over two years. That $600 phone suddenly becomes a lot more affordable once it’s only going to set you back $25 a month.

Now what if we were to apply the same logic to generator purchases this way: The Florida Power & Light Co. (which happens to be the local power company) could essentially sell generators to facilities, but spread the payments out over multiple years. Suddenly, those expensive generators become a lot more affordable, don’t they? And think of the additional resulting payoffs:

  • Operators get to wear the white hats, because they are showing a clear commitment to resident care
  • The power company looks like a caring citizen
  • Local politicians can send out press releases and maybe attend ceremonies honoring their efforts to nudge things along
  • Best of all, thousands of residents would be a lot safer.

Maybe the idea isn’t perfect. But it’s a start. And it sure sounds a lot better than the situation that now exists.


John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.