Monday, May 14, 2012

Nursing Homes and Disasters - Where to Now?

In the middle of last month, the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued a report that found emergency preparedness and planning for disasters was woefully inadequate at the nation's nursing homes.  Given a report in 2006 came to similar conclusions, the popular press has since published a number of editorial pieces on the situation, most recently in The New York Times. While there are many issues addressed in these reports and press considerations, one theme is crystal clear.  Nursing home staff rarely develop any detailed understanding of how to manage a disaster that forces them to move patients from their current location to other sites.  Indeed, an ongoing review of nationwide nursing home regulations and plans by the University of Minnesota reiterates that point:
We found no State currently had a specific regulation about contracts for transportation for evacuations... (even though such) plans ended up being inoperable in recent large-scale disasters because all nursing homes had contracted with the same few companies, and/or federal or State emergency authorities had commandeered all the available vehicles.
To learn more about these issues, use the links below:

Comment: Because of the wide variety of elements impacting outcome, evacuation planning tends to be the soft underbelly of all disaster planning efforts - not just those in the nursing home community. However, as noted in "Nuke the Neighborhood - Part2", it can be managed. For those that missed it, here again is the link to the University of Minnesota's Evacuation Planning Software:

Photo Credit: LA Times

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