Yet another study has come out about nursing homes not being prepared for disasters- natural and otherwise. After Katrina, where many residents at one nursing home died due to poor planning, the government decided to do a large scale study.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Tornado, hurricane or flood, nursing homes are woefully unprepared to protect frail residents in a natural disaster, government investigators say.
Emergency plans required by the government often lack specific steps such as coordinating with local authorities, notifying relatives or even pinning name tags and medication lists to residents in an evacuation, according to the findings.
Pinning name tags and med lists to actual residents? That’s a novel idea.
“We identified many of the same gaps in nursing home preparedness and response,” investigators from the inspector general’s office of the Health and Human Services Department wrote in the report being released Monday. “Emergency plans lacked relevant information. … Nursing homes faced challenges with unreliable transportation contracts, lack of collaboration with local emergency management, and residents who developed health problems.”
The devil is always in the details: The more detail the better the plan. I recall a nursing home calling for buses to come get the residents during the Katrina event; the buses could not enter the city because the governor blocked access into New Orleans. Then as the levies broke, flooding became a logistical problem for bus companies. So the problems may not have all been the nursing homes’ fault.
The vulnerability of nursing home patients became a national issue when 35 residents of St. Rita’s Nursing Home just outside New Orleans perished during Katrina. Some drowned in their beds.
Prosecutors charged the owners of the facility with negligent homicide, saying they should have evacuated the home. But a jury acquitted them of all charges. Some jurors said afterward that Louisiana authorities should have taken responsibility for the safety of nursing home residents ahead of the monster storm.
I believe most disasters cannot be adequately planned for. There are too many variables that could destroy one important aspect of such plans.
If transportation can’t happen because the flooding is making the roads unsafe to drive on, there isn’t much to be done. No amount of planning, drills or government mandate will change this.
Having 10 days of a water supply isn’t unreasonable in my view- storing it safely is though. This could be a whole lot of water to be stored somewhere…
How about meds? What happens when they’re gone? And the streets are too flooded? And the government says we can only have so many days supply of meds in the first place? There are too many different scenarios that can occur during a disaster. It doesn’t hurt to prepare. It does hurt to assume all will go according to some neatly written, well practiced plan.