(1) PURPOSE.—The purpose of this section is to provide for the operation and closure of special needs shelters and to designate the Department of Health, through its county health departments, as the lead agency for coordination of the recruitment of health care practitioners, as defined in s. 456.001(4), to staff special needs shelters in times of emergency or disaster and to provide resources to the department to carry out this responsibility. However, nothing in this section prohibits a county health department from entering into an agreement with a local emergency management agency to assume the lead responsibility for recruiting health care practitioners.
(2) SPECIAL NEEDS SHELTER PLAN; STAFFING; STATE AGENCY ASSISTANCE.—If funds have been appropriated to support disaster coordinator positions in county health departments:
(a) The department shall assume lead responsibility for the coordination of local medical and health care providers, the American Red Cross, and other interested parties in developing a plan for the staffing and medical management of special needs shelters. The local Children’s Medical Services offices shall assume lead responsibility for the coordination of local medical and health care providers, the American Red Cross, and other interested parties in developing a plan for the staffing and medical management of pediatric special needs shelters. Plans must conform to the local comprehensive emergency management plan.
(b) County health departments shall, in conjunction with the local emergency management agencies, have the lead responsibility for coordination of the recruitment of health care practitioners to staff local special needs shelters. County health departments shall assign their employees to work in special needs shelters when those employees are needed to protect the health and safety of persons with special needs. County governments shall assist the department with nonmedical staffing and the operation of special needs shelters. The local health department and emergency management agency shall coordinate these efforts to ensure appropriate staffing in special needs shelters.
(c) The appropriate county health department, Children’s Medical Services office, and local emergency management agency shall jointly decide who has responsibility for medical supervision in each special needs shelter.
(d) Local emergency management agencies shall be responsible for the designation and operation of special needs shelters during times of emergency or disaster and the closure of the facilities following an emergency or disaster. The local health department and emergency management agency shall coordinate these efforts to ensure the appropriate designation and operation of special needs shelters. County health departments shall assist the local emergency management agency with regard to the management of medical services in special needs shelters.
(e) The Secretary of Elderly Affairs, or his or her designee, shall convene, at any time that he or she deems appropriate and necessary, a multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning team to assist local areas that are severely impacted by a natural or manmade disaster that requires the use of special needs shelters. Multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning teams shall provide assistance to local emergency management agencies with the continued operation or closure of the shelters, as well as with the discharge of special needs clients to alternate facilities if necessary. Local emergency management agencies may request the assistance of a multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning team by alerting statewide emergency management officials of the necessity for additional assistance in their area. The Secretary of Elderly Affairs is encouraged to proactively work with other state agencies prior to any natural disasters for which warnings are provided to ensure that multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning teams are ready to assemble and deploy rapidly upon a determination by state emergency management officials that a disaster area requires additional assistance. The Secretary of Elderly Affairs may call upon any state agency or office to provide staff to assist a multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning team. Unless the secretary determines that the nature or circumstances surrounding the disaster do not warrant participation from a particular agency’s staff, each multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning team shall include at least one representative from each of the following state agencies:
1. Department of Elderly Affairs.
2. Department of Health.
3. Department of Children and Family Services.
4. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
5. Department of Community Affairs.
6. Agency for Health Care Administration.
7. Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
(3) REIMBURSEMENT TO HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONERS AND FACILITIES.—
(a) The department shall, upon request, reimburse in accordance with paragraph (b):
1. Health care practitioners, as defined in s. 456.001, provided the practitioner is not providing care to a patient under an existing contract, and emergency medical technicians and paramedics licensed under chapter 401 for medical care provided at the request of the department in special needs shelters or at other locations during times of emergency or a declared disaster. Reimbursement for health care practitioners, except for physicians licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, shall be based on the average hourly rate that such practitioners were paid according to the most recent survey of Florida hospitals conducted by the Florida Hospital Association or other nationally recognized or state-recognized data source.
2. Health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and community residential homes, if, upon closure of a special needs shelter, a multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning team determines that it is necessary to discharge persons with special needs to other health care facilities. The receiving facilities are eligible for reimbursement for services provided to the individuals for up to 90 days. A facility must show proof of a written request from a representative of an agency serving on the multiagency special needs shelter discharge planning team that the individual for whom the facility is seeking reimbursement for services rendered was referred to that facility from a special needs shelter. The department shall specify by rule which expenses are reimbursable and the rate of reimbursement for each service.
(b) Reimbursement is subject to the availability of federal funds and shall be requested on forms prepared by the department. If a Presidential Disaster Declaration has been issued, the department shall request federal reimbursement of eligible expenditures. The department may not provide reimbursement to facilities under this subsection for services provided to a person with special needs if, during the period of time in which the services were provided, the individual was enrolled in another state-funded program, such as Medicaid or another similar program, was covered under a policy of health insurance as defined in s. 624.603, or was a member of a health maintenance organization or prepaid health clinic as defined in chapter 641, which would otherwise pay for the same services. Travel expense and per diem costs shall be reimbursed pursuant to s. 112.061.
(4) HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER REGISTRY.—The department may use the registries established in ss. 401.273 and 456.38 when health care practitioners are needed to staff special needs shelters or to assist with other disaster-related activities.
(5) SPECIAL NEEDS SHELTER INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE.—The State Surgeon General may establish a special needs shelter interagency committee and serve as, or appoint a designee to serve as, the committee’s chair. The department shall provide any necessary staff and resources to support the committee in the performance of its duties. The committee shall address and resolve problems related to special needs shelters not addressed in the state comprehensive emergency medical plan and shall consult on the planning and operation of special needs shelters.
(a) The committee shall:
1. Develop, negotiate, and regularly review any necessary interagency agreements.
2. Undertake other such activities as the department deems necessary to facilitate the implementation of this section.
3. Submit recommendations to the Legislature as necessary.
(b) The special needs shelter interagency committee shall be composed of representatives of emergency management, health, medical, and social services organizations. Membership shall include, but shall not be limited to, representatives of the Departments of Health, Community Affairs, Children and Family Services, Elderly Affairs, and Education; the Agency for Health Care Administration; the Florida Medical Association; the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association; Associated Home Health Industries of Florida, Inc.; the Florida Nurses Association; the Florida Health Care Association; the Florida Assisted Living Affiliation; the Florida Hospital Association; the Florida Statutory Teaching Hospital Council; the Florida Association of Homes for the Aging; the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association; the American Red Cross; Florida Hospices and Palliative Care, Inc.; the Association of Community Hospitals and Health Systems; the Florida Association of Health Maintenance Organizations; the Florida League of Health Systems; the Private Care Association; the Salvation Army; the Florida Association of Aging Services Providers; the AARP; and the Florida Renal Coalition.
(c) Meetings of the committee shall be held in Tallahassee, and members of the committee shall serve at the expense of the agencies or organizations they represent. The committee shall make every effort to use teleconference or videoconference capabilities in order to ensure statewide input and participation.
(6) RULES.—The department has the authority to adopt rules necessary to implement this section. Rules shall include:
(a) The definition of a “person with special needs,” including eligibility criteria for individuals with physical, mental, cognitive impairment, or sensory disabilities and the services a person with special needs can expect to receive in a special needs shelter.
(b) The process for special needs shelter health care practitioners and facility reimbursement for services provided in a disaster.
(c) Guidelines for special needs shelter staffing levels to provide services.
(d) The definition of and standards for special needs shelter supplies and equipment, including durable medical equipment.
(e) Standards for the special needs shelter registration process, including guidelines for addressing the needs of unregistered persons in need of a special needs shelter.
(f) Standards for addressing the needs of families where only one dependent is eligible for admission to a special needs shelter and the needs of adults with special needs who are caregivers for individuals without special needs.
(g) The requirement of the county health departments to seek the participation of hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health agencies, hospice providers, nurse registries, home medical equipment providers, dialysis centers, and other health and medical emergency preparedness stakeholders in pre-event planning activities.
(7) EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLANS.—The submission of emergency management plans to county health departments by home health agencies, nurse registries, hospice programs, and home medical equipment providers is conditional upon receipt of an appropriation by the department to establish disaster coordinator positions in county health departments unless the State Surgeon General and a local county commission jointly determine to require that such plans be submitted based on a determination that there is a special need to protect public health in the local area during an emergency.
History.—s. 11, ch. 2000-140; s. 20, ch. 2001-62; s. 49, ch. 2005-152; s. 20, ch. 2006-71; s. 18, ch. 2008-6.