Report Faults Nursing Home Evacuation Plans
The emergency evacuation plans of nursing homes located in the Gulf States during four hurricanes within the past year met federal and state regulations but had a number of problems, according to a report issued on Friday by HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson, the New York Times reports.
For the report -- requested by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging -- HHS OIG conducted on site visits and interviews with staff and administrators at 20 of the 2,526 nursing homes in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Among the 20 nursing homes, 13 had evacuated residents before the hurricanes reached land, and seven did not evacuate residents.
According to the report, the 13 nursing homes that evacuated residents experienced the most serious problems, such as: unavailability of buses contracted to evacuate residents; unreliability of or lack of air conditioning in alternative transportation; inadequate staff; longer-than-expected travel times, which required staff to ration food and water; failure to transport some medications, oxygen canisters and incontinence supplies; and dehydration, pressure sores and travel related illnesses, such as urinary tract infections, experienced by residents.
In addition, the report finds that some of the evacuation plans of the 20 nursing homes lacked:
- Guidelines on whether to evacuate residents;
- Adequate estimates of the amount of food and water required for evacuations;
- Recommendations on alternative evacuation routes in the event of traffic congestion;
- Official arrangements with host facilities;
- Guidelines on how and when to return; and
- Formal partnerships with local officials.
The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.