Last year, a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Missouri. Its aftermath left the city in ruins. While there have been improvements in preparedness since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a recent report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) shows that there are still gaps in nursing home disaster response.
Despite the estimated 92 percent of the nation’s 16,000 nursing homes that have emergency disaster plans, there are still shortcomings. The OIG notes that nursing homes face challenges in contracting transportation, insufficient collaboration with local emergency management on evacuation procedures and dealing with resident health problems during a crisis.
In a letter published in The Advocate [Baton Rouge, La.], Louisiana Nursing Home Executive Director Joe Donchess suggests that the report drew broad conclusions from limited data noting the small number of nursing homes surveyed and that much of the information was anecdotal.
The California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) notes that the OIG examined fewer than one percent of the nation’s nursing homes in its examination of facilities in seven of the 10 disaster-prone states.
The OIG has recommended that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services update existing requirements to include specific emergency planning and training.