Okla. lawmaker wants generators in senior centers

Associated Press Modified: August 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm •  Published: August 31, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A state lawmaker whose district lost power during a winter storm said Tuesday he wants to require backup generators in assisted living centers.

State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, held an interim study on the issue Tuesday before the House Human Services Committee. The studies are designed to educate and inform members about policy issues that may come before them during the 2011 legislative session that begins in February.

Dorman, who said a constituent's elderly mother was forced to move from her assisted living center during the weeklong power outage, said he wants to mimic a Maryland law that requires facilities with more than 50 residents to have backup power. The law allows for a financial hardship waiver, Dorman said.

The requirement would not apply to nursing homes or residential-care facilities, which are more strictly regulated.

But Dorman said his bill would include a requirement that all facilities, including nursing homes, have detailed disaster and evacuation plans filed with the local fire department.

"It's highly encouraged right now," Dorman said, "but there's no requirement.

Of the 139 continuum of care and assisted living centers in the state, nearly 70 percent reported having a generator, said Jim Buck, assistant chief of the Oklahoma State Department of Health's long-term care service.

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