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Are LTC settings prepared to deal with emergencies? The Office of Inspector General (OIG) thinks not.

July 3, 2012
by Sandra Hoban
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When disaster strikes or your facility’s systems are not up to circumventing unusual, stressful conditions—like the intense heat wave that much of the country is experiencing—are you ready to deal with the situation? An OIG report indicated that while most nursing homes have written disaster plans, they tend to be inadequate and fail to have specific procedures in place to deal with an emergency.

Last year, Long-Term Living covered the devastation experienced by two LTC facilities—The Greenbrier and Meadows Care Center—when an EF-5 tornado hit Joplin, Mo. This past month, emergency conditions caused various alarms across the country. Dry conditions in Colorado have ignited forest fires; severe heat has spawned serious storms and winds.

While these events are tragic for the populations involved, they can be deadly for nursing home residents. Nursing home residents have special needs to consider. If the power goes out and the elevators and air conditioning aren’t working, how will residents with mobility issues on higher floors be transferred or evacuated? Can you shelter residents in place during the emergency? How do you calm agitated residents with Alzheimer’s during an emergency? Notify families? I’m sure you can think of many other scenarios requiring special attention and procedures.

The OIG report looked at 24 nursing homes. Problems included how to keeping track of residents and their medications during an evacuation, how to maintain staffing. It was noted that 23 of the 24 facilities did not have procedures in place to communicate with local authorities during a crisis.

CMS has an emergency preparedness checklist available to help facilities plan. The report, however, found that only 13 of the 24 administrators were aware of the document.

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Review your procedures and make sure you’re ready—for anything.

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Sandra Hoban

Managing Editor

Sandra Hoban

@SandiHoban

www.ltlmagazine.com

Sandra Hoban has been on Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of...