One year ago, nursing facilities in New York and New Jersey were bracing themselves for what might be one of the worst hurricanes the area had seen, ever, Hurricane Sandy. The decision to shelter in place or evacuate was one that seemed to hinge on whether the government would require it, not on how bad the storm was forecast to be. For instance, nursing homes in low-lying Rockaway Beach were told not to evacuate, leaving them vulnerable to the severe flooding that came along with the storm. Widespread power outages would require the use of generators at the facilities for an undetermined period of time as the power companies struggled to restore power to a large portion of the area. One year later, the Huffington Post says 5000 nursing home beds in the area have been lost, and critical care hospitals are making improvements after the “wake up call” that Sandy provided. Last April, the OIG issued a report about the lack of preparation in nursing facilities for emergencies, “Gaps continue to exist in nursing home emergency preparedness and response during disasters: 2007-2010.” That report was published after the most costly hurricane in US history, Hurricane Katrina, and notes areas where many facilities were lacking in their disaster planning. What has your nursing facility done to make sure it is ready for another storm event like Sandy or another type of event of similar magnitude that would require implementation of your Disaster Plan? Have you taken a hard cold look at your Disaster Plan in the last year, updated it and provided appropriate staff education? In reality, are you ready with a plan?
In last month’s CMSCG Bulletin, we took a look at disaster planning for nursing homes in our subscriber-only article, “Preparing for the Worst: Disaster Planning for Nursing Homes.” We’ve decided to share that article with all of you since it provides some important reminders about disaster planning for nursing facilities, including:
- Elements of a Disaster Plan
- Emergency Management Collaboration
- Transfer Trauma
- Cited deficiencies for 2013 regarding disaster planning across the United States
- Resources for information on disaster planning for nursing facilities
If your facility needs help with its disaster plan or would like CMS Compliance Group to review the plan to identify gaps, please contact us.