The San Juan Daily Star
Bills would provide essential services to elderly, children during a storm emergency
By The Star Staff
District 19 Rep. Jocelyne M. Rodríguez Negrón filed a pair of legislative measures on Tuesday to ensure that during an emergency or atmospheric event, populations of older adults and children in long-term care facilities are not left without essential services such as electricity, drinking water and supplies.
The legislator warned that during Hurricane Fiona, problems were repeated similar to those experienced after the passage of Hurricane Maria, which violated and endangered the lives of elderly people.
According to the official report of the Government of Puerto Rico, after the passage of Hurricane Fiona, 25 fatalities associated with the storm have been reported. Of those, 22 involved people older than 55 years.
House Bill (HB) 1496 seeks to amend Law 88-2018, known as the “Law to Guarantee of Provision of Services,” to modify the requirements established for certain facilities for the benefit of the population of older adults and children.
“Many of the centers for the elderly, homes for adults and children have electrical generators and cisterns to operate for certain periods, but the service has been reduced to a communal area,” said Rodríguez Negrón said.
Bill 1496 seeks to guarantee that during an emergency caused by a natural disaster, nursing homes, homes for children and adults, have the uninterrupted basic electricity and drinking water services, beyond communal areas.
Rodríguez Negrón also filed HB 1497, which will amend Law 17-2019, known as the “Energy Public Policy Law of Puerto Rico,” in order to include nursing homes, hospices and care centers for older adults within the essential service facilities of the island’s electric power system.
The measure also declares basic utilities as a right to life and health of older adults.
Currently, the Energy Public Policy Law does not include nursing homes and senior care centers.