After Hurricane Katrina, Medicare and the Department of Health and Human Services created new regulations, setting forth what they will require of facilities in disaster planning. The requirements are somewhat vague, requiring facilities to “have detailed written plans and procedures to meet all potential emergencies and disasters,” and “train employees in emergency procedures when they begin work in the facility, periodically review the procedures with current staff, and carry out unannounced staff drills using those procedures.” The contents of a facility’s disaster plan are left to the discretion of the administration. It is suggested your disaster plan include:
Develop specific procedures for notifying staff to implement the disaster plan. Areas that need to be covered include how staff will communicate with each other, resident families, and emergency personnel. An intercom system provides a method to warn of potential disaster and to announce scheduled drills. Provide a section in your plan for communicating with families of residents and staff who are off-duty so everyone knows the status of your nursing home.
Evacuation and Transportation
Your disaster plan should include how you will evacuate residents should the need arise. In addition, an alternative facility needs to be designated. Prior arrangements with emergency transportation companies should be arranged and detailed in your plan, along with evacuation maps.
Your disaster plan must include staff training. Keep a detailed record of training, noting training updates as well as training of new staff. Make sure support staff receives training specific to their roles. Determine and describe the hierarchy of who makes decisions for the home. Assign a staff member to monitor conditions and others to start prepping for evacuation if disaster strikes. Assign a staff member to stay in touch with key agencies, alert them to the situation, and explain the actions your facility is contemplating. Another staff member needs to confirm the availability of staff and call in additional staff to help evacuate or take care of residents if the decision is made to shelter in place.
Supplies and Equipment
Your disaster plans should include lists of necessary food and other supplies, such as water, oxygen, flashlights, and medications. Your facility should keep a supply of food and water to feed residents and staff for a period of seven to 10 days, allowing for a gallon of water per person each day. Equipment, such as generators, should be checked periodically and facility maintenance personnel should be trained on its use. Procedures should also contain directions for the maintaining of resident personal emergency supply kits to take with them during an evacuation.
Having a comprehensive disaster plan with written procedures is essential to surviving emergencies. The big challenge to disaster planning is that all disasters are different. However, with proper preparation, training, practice, and updated procedures in place, your facility can assure the safety of its residents and staff.
At Highland Risk Services, we are ready to help you prepare for unplanned emergencies. Contacts us to ask any questions you have or to get assistance evaluating the emergency planning service you provide your clients. Please let us serve you by calling one of our two offices in Chicago at 847-832-9100 or Lansing at 517-676-7100.