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Before choosing a nursing home, research emergency plans

Perhaps you are in the process of choosing a nursing home for your elderly mother who is no longer mobile and must use a wheelchair. It is a good idea to find out how a nursing home staff handles wheelchair patients and how they treat bed sores, infections and other health issues. It is also a good idea to learn about the emergency plan the nursing home has in place.

Response to a public records request

Following the devastation brought by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the Miami Herald filed public records requests asking to see the emergency plans Florida nursing homes followed. Of those submitted to the newspaper, one in four was mostly blank, and one in three facilities confessed to not having enough emergency food for a week, which violates a state requirement. As many as 29 of the nursing homes that responded made no mention of the estimated time it would take to evacuate residents during an emergency.

Required planning

As a condition of having their licenses, approximately 8,000 providers of healthcare and social services across the Sunshine State must maintain emergency plans for the safety of residents and staff. Furthermore, county emergency management officials must post the plans online within 10 days of plan approval. It is important for nursing homes to be self-sufficient and able to act promptly for the welfare of residents. When Hurricane Irene struck, some nursing homes did not have enough batteries or plywood for boarding windows. Some had evacuation plans that did not work in a real emergency, and others had problems finding shelter for patients and transportation to take them there. Of course, there was also the lack of generators in the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills that left 14 residents dead as the result of excessive heat.

Questions to ask

When looking for a good nursing home for your mother, take a tour of the facility. ask about emergency exits and emergency planning. How will staff care for wheelchair patients if a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes? Will there be enough food and water to last a week? Where will residents go if evacuated, and how will the nursing home transport them? You and your family want Mom to be in a facility that has her best interests at heart, and that includes an emergency plan that comes with well-trained staff.

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