Specialized Information for:

Nursing HomesAssisted Living/Board & Care Home and Community Based Services
Back to News Listing

Article Published in AgingToday on Emergency Preparedness

February 13, 2018

Consumer Voice Executive Director Lori Smetanka and former Ohio State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Beverley Laubert have published an article on emergency preparedness in the American Society on Aging's newspaper, AgingToday. Long-term care facilities are required by law to have plans for emergency procedures.  However, in the past, regulations were not clear on what details needed to be included in the plans, and recent natural disasters have revealed that many long-term care facilities and community care systems are unprepared to handle emergencies and protect their residents and patients. 

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina when 215 nursing home residents and hospital patients died because of plan failures, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) developed resources and guidance on emergency preparedness.  Yet, despite the efforts of CMS and at state and local levels, problems persisted in nursing homes. 

In 2016, CMS wrote more comprehensive rules around emergency preparedness including requiring 17 different provider types, including nursing facilities, to have an emergency preparedness program that meets all federal, state and local requirements and to develop policies and procedures based on the emergency plan; to require training and to test the plans; and to mandate standby power systems.  For the rules to be effective, there must be sufficient implementation, monitoring and enforcement.  Residents and families should ask about the emergency plan and know what it entails.  Long-term care ombudsmen can assist during emergency situations by focusing on the individual residents.  They can help with locating lost personal items, checking in with residents who require relocating, and advocating for quality care.

For more information, read the article here.