Published on:

Is Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

nursing home disaster plan

Healthcare Facilities Should Be Prepared for Natural Disasters

Although new Medicare and Medicaid guidelines were set in place after the tragic deaths of over 100 nursing home residents during Hurricane Katrina, cases of patients left behind due to natural disasters such as wildfires, tornadoes, or floods are reported each year. These occurrences are starting to prompt health care officials to raise concern over the need for better public policy support, emergency planning resources, funding, and protections for vulnerable long-term care residents in the event of an emergency prompted by catastrophic events and conditions that threaten their well-being such as no internet and no electricity.

A recent federal review of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) records found that:

  • Nursing home inspectors issued 2,300 violations of emergency-planning regulations over the past four years nationwide.
  • Nearly 1,400 nursing facilities were cited for neglecting upkeep on emergency power generators.
  • Inspectors have cited 536 nursing homes for failing to maintain comfortable and safe temperature levels for residents.

A bigger issue is that these homes rarely face severe reprimands or are required to change, even when relaxed surveyors identify repeated lapses, leaving most homes unprepared for an emergency.

Nursing Homes Can Prepare for Natural Disasters, Challenges Remain

When a nursing home or care facility becomes vulnerable to an emergency, everyone needs to be prepared for resident evacuation, tracking and management or patients, backing up to an effective communication system, supply refrigeration for medications, air conditioning to avoid heat-related illnesses, and washing machines to keep linens and clothes clean from bacteria that could cause an infection or illness.

Even so, challenges related to transportation for evacuation sit in place as many homes will simply be unable to move residents due to lack of mobility resources and funding. Medicare will only pay for evacuation out of the facility and will not pay for the return of patients and for profit nursing homes are not eligible for funding to assist with transportation.

Emergency preparedness plans need to be actionable and implemented effectively and more oversight is needed to make sure nursing home businesses are assuring the health and safety of their residents. In addition, nursing home staff should be able to explain, understand their role, and practice emergency plans rather than just reviewing them in a playbook.

Emergency Preparedness Should Never Be An Afterthought

Our Illinois nursing home attorneys know that many care facilities routinely ignore the safety and needs of those in their charge in the event of an emergency. Located in Chicago, Levin & Perconti is one of the nation’s most recognized and respected leaders in the areas of elder abuse and nursing home negligence litigation and settled cases throughout the city of Chicago, surrounding suburbs, and the entire state of Illinois.

If you suspect neglect of a loved one in a nursing home due to its lack of emergency preparedness, please contact us now for a FREE consultation with one of our attorneys. Call us toll free at 1-877-374-1417, in Chicago at (312) 332-2872, or complete our online case evaluation form.