Thinking of Nursing Homes in Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Over the last week headlines have been dominated by one of the largest storms to ever affect the country: Hurrican Sandy. Many watched as the mammoth tropical weather event slammed into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast sections of the country. The damage was incredibly severe, with New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and several other states suffering serious flooding and devastation. The size of the storm was so signficant that debilitating winds were found 500 hundred miles from the center of the hurricane. In fact, weather patterns way out here in Chicago were affected by the tragedy as well. All of us here are thinking about those suffering in the aftermath of these events. We urge all community members to do what they can for those in need out east.

In the wake of this weather disaster, some may be wondering about how local nursing home residents dealt with the situation. Of course, seniors in these homes are incredidbly vulnerable to even daily details, a serious strorm is obviously even more troubling. Seniors in these facilities are entirely dependent on the actions of their caregivers and others invovled to be protected from these storms. Caregivers have to act appropriatel to protect them from storms, just like they do with heat waves and cold during the winter.

No Evacuation?
Last week a troubling story was shared in the Huffington Post on the steps taken by one state regarding nursing homes in the storm’s path. The article suggests that five long-term care facilities were told that the residents should not be evacuated, even though they were situated in a mandatory evacuation zone just blocks from the ocean. Unfortunately, this meant that the seniors (and employees) were forced to sit through the tumult and endure a series of probems. Apparently the storm tore through the area and flooded many of the homes. The first floor, lobby, and other areas were underwater in some of those facilities. Also, back-up generators in the area were flooded, meaning that some facilities were out of power without any alternatives.

Sandbags had been piled up at some homes, but they proved no match for the storm. In some locations the water rose to four feet across the lower floors. An employee of one faiclity interviewed for the story explained that “It was like Niagra Falls.”

It remains unclear why these facilities were told to stay put. When reporters asked facility employees about it, they noted that the question shoud be directed to the Mayor’s office. The order to stay came from city hall. Hopefully more information about this comes to light in the upcoming days and weeks. It goes without saying that all those invovled in making decisions that impact vulnerable nursing homes residents must make those decisions prudently and according to reasonable standards.

Our attorneys applaud the work of senior caregivers across the country who work tirelessly to ensure seniors are not harmed in any number of dangerous situations–including violent storms. We appreciate that the majority of caregivers act reasonably at all times. However, there are exceptions, and it is critical that we raise awareness of those exeptions so steps are taken to minimize their occurrence. If you or someone you know have ever been affected by an instance of poor caregiving at a long-term care facility, be sure to seek accountability and redress.

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