Analysis by LettersToTheBeast
(CNN)During the first 20 days of August 2003, almost 15,000 elderly French citizens died as a heat wave hovered over that country. Temperatures had risen only 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit over their usual seasonal averages.
Read down three paragraphs, where the quack concedes and defeats his own argument.
This week eight residents of a single Florida nursing home with its power knocked out from Hurricane Irma died within hours of each other. Indeed, the elderly are often the first victims in extreme weather events.
It is time we reconsider the wisdom of caring for people who are the most sensitive to the changing climate in homes that are situated at the very epicenter of the change.
Here’s an example of “climate change” in Florida, as witnessed on January 19, 1977 (Orlando Sentinel).
Florida possesses about 200,000 nursing and assisted living facility beds, befitting a state with the highest percentage of elderly residents in the nation. These homes are air conditioned, unlike what we saw in France in 2003 (a situation that’s since been corrected).
Nice way of burying a rebuttal to your own argument a few paragraphs up, Doc. You forgot to mention that in Florida, people don’t abandon their obligations, drop everything (and everyone) and run off on vacation for eight weeks every year. It wasn’t just a matter of old people being left to bake in the heat in Paris 14 years ago; Their caregivers and even their own family abandoned them en-masse so they could head out on two-months’ government-subsidized holidays. See, that’s what you get when you have a national of civil servants.
But air conditioning only works when you’ve got electrical power, the first public utility to falter in a hurricane like Irma.
It is probably fair to say that The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills charged several thousand dollars per month for its services. Is it possible that management could have installed a couple of industrial generators (hopefully elevated, to avoid them being flooded out as happened in Fukushima, Japan). yet still managed to eek out a meager profit?
No question, facility managers should have evacuated their residents as soon as it became apparent Florida Power and Light wasn’t on the way to fix the damaged transformer supplying their AC system, something their own electrician couldn’t fix. No question, they should have had a backup generator ready to keep their AC running in such an event.
So, yeah, I guess they really SHOULD have had a back-up generator. Doesn’t this turn the premise of the sawbone’s argument on it’s head? This has gone from a global warming (sorry, sorry, sorry….CLIMATE CHANGE) story to tale of gross criminal negligence? Even homicide?
And any facility can only compensate so much for the fundamental flaws of Florida’s infrastructure, which includes a lot of vulnerable above-ground lines.
Florida Power and Light works with state and local officials to identify key facilities where it must keep the power running at all costs — places like Memorial Regional Hospital, down the street from the nursing facility where the eight died. Does FPL have the ability to prioritize power restoration to every facility providing care for vulnerable people across the 35 Florida counties it serves? Probably not.
Was this the first power failure the nursing home has ever experienced? Has there ever been a power failure in Florida outside of hurricane conditions? Has the power ever failed during bright sunshine? Has an automobile ever crashed into a light pole or transformer and disabled power to the neighborhood?
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills wasn’t on that list, and FPL’s press releases make clear: “We prioritize restoring power to critical facilities, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants, transportation providers and shelters.” Not mentioned: nursing homes.
So our friends at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were so deluded as to think the power would always be on and that public utilities and government would never fail them? Are they really that stupid?
As we age, our nervous systems falter. It’s one reason so many older people suffer serious injuries in falls; they’re not as quick to react to a loss of balance, and if they tumble, lack the automatic protective response of swinging arms out just in time. Those are often injuries that can lead to nursing home care.
Our autonomic nervous system, which also declines with age, is responsible for controlling things like the dilation and constriction of blood vessels feeding your skin. Dilating those blood vessels is an essential way we release the heat building up in our bodies. The problem holds true even if you’re outwardly as fit and lean as a younger person. Someone who’s 75 has anywhere from 25% to 50% less blood flow to their skin than someone who’s 30.
Yeah, yeah, Doc. We get it. You’re the smartest man in the room.
The older we are, the easier heat will overtake us. This is one of the effects of aging we can’t seem to avoid.
That’s why whenever I used to drive my mother around, I would crack the window open a bit when I left her in the car.
Why then do so many of us, as we age, choose to live in a place that’s hot?
How’s this for starters, Bones?
Everyone knows Florida’s a great place in the winter, but with AC it’s a great place in the summer, too. That AC is critical to the entire South. I’m from Alabama, but the hottest summers of my life were the ones I spent living in Boston.
Friends and co-workers there couldn’t believe it, but Southerners like myself have come to expect, as a sign of civilization, an arctic blast when opening any door. You don’t get that in Massachusetts, even in the places that claim to be air conditioned. What makes Tuscaloosa, Alabama, habitable makes it possible to age in place in Hollywood, Florida, too.
Nobody in Taxachusetts or New York ever complain about lack of air conditioning in Summer? Okay. Whatever you say, Doc. After a series of catastrophic failures on Chicago’s “El” (rapid transit) system after a snowstorm, mayor Richard M. Daley explained to a gaggle of reporters how the trains were ill-suited to snowy conditions. A WGN reporter asked, “Who buys trains in Chicago that don’t work in the winter?” to which Mayor Daley responded, “The same people who buy buses without air conditioning in the summer.”
Floridians alone can’t be blamed for their state’s current predicament of over-construction and environmental vulnerability. Florida is all of us: it’s populated mostly by people from out of state, and if you don’t live there now don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.
In the interest of fair disclosure, your humble correspondent, aged 47, moved to Orlando from Niagara Falls in search of global warming. But if all that over-construction and environmental vulnerability really are getting to you, may we suggest Buffalo, Detroit or Shelby, Montana as safe spaces. And, as former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg pointed out, there’s plenty of cheap real estate in Buffalo.
The state is the nation’s playground, too, to the extent that 1.4 million Florida jobs depend on rolling out the welcome mat.
That’s why Florida drivers are so terrible. Especially in Miami and Orlando.
It’s no wonder so many Americans choose to stay.
Ahem. Not just Americans.
Millions of Americans transition into the ranks of the elderly year after year; 81 million Americans will be over 65 in the year 2050.
Some 68% of Americans over 65 ultimately need physical help whether from their families or in assisted living or nursing facilities.
Well, as long as we are content to leave them in old folks’ homes here in America, or abandon them and take off on holiday as our French friends do, it looks like they’re S.O.L. Surely you must have some drug for them, Doc? All those commercials on your Cartoon News Network with the pleasant sounding female for the first 59 seconds and the fast-talking guy at the end who says, “SideEffectsMayIncludeDeath!)” Gotta be something there for the oldsters?
What percentage of Americans should we be encouraging into Florida nursing facilities for their later years? The state didn’t have the infrastructure to handle Irma in 2017. What’s going to fundamentally change that will make it withstand coming storms? Are we really going to rebuild it that much better, enough so that every facility providing care, not just major hospitals, can withstand Category 4 and 5 winds?
What percentage? You mean you don’t know? As for the “infrastructure” how many nursing homes had similar incidents? I mean, this storm was so catastrophic you must have had a dozen, two dozen deaths at every old folks’ home in Florida? Right, Doc? Unless…what if all of those other homes – and there must be hundreds of them across the state – actually had the back-up power systems they were Hollywood Hills was supposed to have in the first place?
As for major storms, up until the very afternoon of the storm, CNN and their greenscreen actors were telling this storm was going to hit Key West (which it did) and then move up the Gulf coast and make landfall again at Tampa. Hollywood and Miami are on the Atlantic coast. Oopsey doodle.
Florida’s elder care is everybody’s problem. Between Medicare and Medicaid, federal funds cover the majority of the nation’s nursing home costs, including those in the Sunshine State.
Yeah. Thank your god America has the greatest health care system on the entire planet. Right, Doc? I wonder what they do in those uncivilized, third-world holes like Canada, France (oops, scratch that, we already know what they do in France), England, Japan, Australia, etc do when it comes to elder care and public health overall.
Should we be paying the same rates for such care in areas of the country that are the most vulnerable to climate change, and thus, imperiling the safety of their residents? It’s time we consider, as a national priority, gradually shifting federal long-term care funds toward areas of the country (even areas of Florida) where we have the infrastructure we need and the ability to maintain it.
I actually agree with you, Doc. At least on the “shifting priorities” part. I’d start with The Pentagon and the CIA and work our way down from there. And don’t forget the TSA. As for “imperiling the safety” of residents, where is an elderly person better off? In Miami, Boca Raton or Los Angeles where you have occasional challenges of hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes (in the case of L.A.)? Or New York City, Buffalo or Minot where we can be guaranteed that at least four months out of every year, our older loved ones will be house-bound and risk freezing to death just stepping outside the let the dog out.
Get back to me when you get an answer on that, Doctor Vox.
You know what else, Doc? Maybe it’s time to shift the priorities of the health care industry, too. Maybe a trip to the emergency room doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Maybe health insurance doesn’t have to cost nearly a thousand dollars a month (or more). Maybe drugs – regardless of how “innovative” don’t have to cost ten times in this country as they do in Canada. Maybe network news doesn’t need to be sponsored by sweet-sounding women pleading with us to run to our doctors asking us if cancer is right for us (apologies to Mike Adams, the Health Ranger).
Whaddya think, Doc?
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