During Hurricane Ida several nursing homes in Louisiana evacuated residents to an overcrowded warehouse that lacked the necessary elements for safety and sanitation. The state reviewed this arrangement before the evacuation per the current rules regarding crisis plans.
Tragically, some residents died in the unsafe and inhumane conditions of the warehouse, prompting the state to eventually remove everyone from the location. Now, the United States is re-examining the laws governing the evacuation practices of care facilities.
Planning for emergencies
Nursing homes must adhere to the standard federal emergency preparedness rule. This regulation requires that care facilities create and submit plans outlining procedures for all types of hazards, including:
- Equipment failures
- Natural disasters and storms
- Infectious disease outbreaks
- Damage to residential buildings
Under existing policies, state officials only perform a limited review to determine if evacuation and other incident plans meet a checklist of minimally required components. They do not necessarily assess or approve the procedures for suitable safety protocols.
Protecting vulnerable adults
Disasters like Hurricane Ida highlight the need for changes on the state and federal levels to protect older adults during emergencies. Nursing home residents have significant care needs, making it essential for facilities to have safe, detailed evacuation plans addressing those needs.
Analyzing a facility’s ability to provide proper care during an evacuation or other emergency is crucial to ensure resident health and safety. The Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency tasked with regulating nursing homes, is examining current processes to create a more thorough review procedure.
Understanding your rights
Care facility residents have the right to proper care, even during an emergency. When a living center fails to meet your loved one’s basic needs, you can seek legal recourse. Pursuing a lawsuit requires an in-depth understanding of nursing home litigation.
Your older relative deserves the best possible care and consideration during an emergency and every day.