According to the current issue of The Voice, “On Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule impacting a wide range of Medicare providers that includes revisions to the new emergency preparedness regulations. According to a CMS press release, the proposed rule is part of the agency’s efforts to ‘relieve burden on healthcare providers by removing unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome Medicare compliance requirements for healthcare facilities.’ The emergency preparedness requirements are targeted for rollback even though they were only implemented less than a year ago.
“A preliminary review by Consumer Voice shows that most changes involve a reduction in the frequency with which nursing homes must perform certain activities. For instance, the facility would only have to review and update its emergency preparedness plan, policies and procedures, communication plan, and training and testing program at least every two years instead of annually. In addition, after providing initial training, the facility would be required to provide emergency preparedness training at least every 2 years instead of every year.
“As the country watches the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence, Consumer Voice is concerned that the proposed revisions will make nursing homes less ready when disaster strikes and subject residents to greater danger. In addition, significant turnover rates among both staff and administration in nursing homes raise concerns about staff readiness if emergency preparedness training is extended to every two years.
“To read the proposed rules released for public inspection prior to their publication in the Federal Register, click here.”
Extreme weather and natural disasters can occur with little warning. This year’s floods and wildfires are proof of that. Are you ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice? You can reduce your anxiety about these scary events by making sure you are prepared if and when they happen.
September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to get your family, pets, and property ready. You can, for example:
- Organize your finances. When it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Having your financial documents up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.
- Replace missing documents. If you’re missing important documents, now’s the time to replace them.
- Check your insurance. Find out if any of your home, health, or other insurance policies will pay for temporary shelter, replacement clothing, furniture, or other items if you are affected by extreme weather or a disaster.
- Prepare your home. From floods to fires, earthquakes, high winds and tornadoes, check out The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) How-To Series: Protect Your Home or Business. If you live where storms and flooding are likely, visit floodsmart.gov to learn about FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
- Plan for your pets. If you’re like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. A little planning today can help ensure safety for your pets during an emergency.
- Sign up for alerts and warnings in your area. Public safety officials use timely and reliable systems to alert you and your family in the event of severe weather and disasters.
Bookmark this site. If a weather event or disaster affects you, come back for tips on recovery and information about your rights.
SOURCE: Federal Trade Commission Consumer Division
“Despair and anxiety: Puerto Rico’s ‘living emergency’ as a mental health crisis unfolds” – The Guardian
“Shaina kisses her son Keydiel, five, in the yard of the school he attends in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.” Photograph: Angel Valentin for the Guardian
by Amanda Holpuch
“For the first 36 hours after Hurricane Maria, five-year-old Keydiel and his mother Shaina were trapped by the toppled trees that blocked the doors to their home in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.
“Eventually, neighbors cleared the sturdy tamarind trees, cutting by hand because there was no electricity. The mother and son emerged to find an island devoured by 155mph winds and harsh rains.
“Their immediate concerns were physical – finding food and water – but bubbling below were anxieties and trauma that would endure for months.”
“Almost half of Americans would be unable to acquire US $400 for an emergency without borrowing or using a credit card. That’s just one reason why the U.S. is woefully underprepared to cope after natural disasters, says Morten Wendelbo at Texas A&M University, as he breaks down some of the nation’s major vulnerabilities when it comes to devastating weather events.”
“During the 2017 disaster season, three severe hurricanes devastated large parts of the U.S.
“The quick succession of major disasters made it obvious that such large-scale emergencies can be a strain, even in one of the world’s richest countries.
“As a complex emergency researcher, I investigate why some countries can better withstand and respond to disasters. The factors are many and diverse, but three major ones stand out because they are within the grasp of the federal and local governments: where and how cities grow; how easily households can access critical services during disaster; and the reliability of the supply chains for critical goods.
“For all three of these factors, the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. In many ways, Americans are becoming more vulnerable by the day.”
Read this article at The Conversation in its entirety, click here.
“West Chester, Pennsylvania | Residents were wrapped in blankets as they were forced to evacuate the senior living community during the five-alarm fire at around 11 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2017. Steven M. Falk/AP” – PHOTO SOURCE: New York Daily News
by Lori Smetanka and Beverley Laubert
“Recent natural disasters exposed long-term-care facilities’ and community care systems’ levels of preparedness to handle emergencies and protect their residents and patients. Hurricanes and wildfires have tested communities’ emergency readiness and ability to respond. The failure of these providers to be prepared, or to effectively implement procedures that would protect their frail, vulnerable populations, has resulted in serious health consequences, even death.
“Long-term-care facilities have long been required by law to have detailed emergency response plans and procedures in place. But these regulations were not clear on what details were to be included in the plans, only requiring that facilities be prepared to meet all potential emergencies and disasters; specifically fires, severe weather and residents who go missing. Facilities also were required to train employees in emergency procedures, and to carry out random drills for staff.”
On December 20, 2017, legislation to improve emergency preparedness in nursing homes was introduced in the House by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) and Congressman Tim Walberg (MI). This bipartisan legislation is in response to the devastating impact on nursing home residents of one of the worst hurricane seasons on record.
The bill, H.R. 4704, the Nursing Home Comfortable Air Ready for Emergencies (CARE) Act, would:
- Codify the federal Emergency Preparedness rule that went into effect November 15, 2017 for nursing homes.
- Mandate that facilities have in place an alternate source of energy capable of powering heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems following a natural disaster for at least 96 hours.
- Increase civil money penalties for facilities found out of compliance with CMS Requirements of Participation, including authorizing civil monetary penalties up to $100,000 for non-compliance resulting in a resident’s death.
- Direct the Secretary of HHS to review facilities based on the Emergency Preparedness (EP) rule and publish the findings on the Nursing Home Compare website.
- Create a loan fund for smaller facilities, or those serving more low-income residents, to come into compliance. Facilities must have a monthly rate of less than $6,000 for private rooms, or have fewer than 50 beds, to qualify.
- Require states to prioritize nursing homes in the same manner as hospitals are prioritized in All-Hazards Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans, and to include in those plans information on how utilities plan to ensure that nursing homes return to functioning as soon as practicable following a disaster.
Although the new Emergency Preparedness regulations are much more comprehensive and thorough than previous rules, they still leave critical gaps in resident safety. Such gaps include maintaining HVAC systems and power restoration, which are both addressed by the Nursing Home CARE Act. Consumer Voice believes H.R. 4704 would better protect nursing home residents in emergencies and is pleased to have assisted Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz in considering policy options.
To read the bill, go to: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr4704/BILLS-115hr4704ih.pdf.
“‘Nothing could have prepared us for this event.’ | Heroes of Las Vegas: the hospital staff called to action after the mass shooting” – The Guardian
by Dan Hernandez in Las Vegas. Pictures by Hector Torres
“Heather Brown with Thea Parish and Tatiana Banassevitch.” Photograph: Hector Torres for the Guardian
“Sunrise Hospital’s emergency room was already full at about 10pm on 1 October when a police officer dropping off an accident victim received a call on his radio announcing: ‘Shots fired.’
“Doctor Kevin Menes and nurse Rhonda Davis looked up from their charts. ‘Is this for real?’ Menes asked. A series of gunshots crackled through the officer’s radio in automatic bursts. It sounded like a combat zone. As he ran out, the officer said, ‘That’s the Route 91 concert.
“Immediately, Menes realized there would be hundreds if not thousands of victims, and Sunrise – Las Vegas’s largest trauma center and the hospital nearest to the site of the country music festival – would probably receive the most.
“He and Davis started to prepare.”
Continue reading this article at The Guardian.
Key in responding or reacting to incidents for any agency, entity, organization is having understanding of the nation’s Incident Command System (ICS) – introduced following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Since then agencies, municipalities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other organizations across the united States have continued to learn, train, develop plans and refine their ICS and emergency planning.
These resources can help your agency, entity or organization begin the planning process.
- CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule – effective November 2016
For more information or for assistance about planning for emergencies and critical incidents that “are never gonna’ happen here”, send an email to email@example.com.
“At Florida Nursing Home, Many Calls for Help, but None That Made a Difference” – The New York Times
Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times”
“HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The emergency room workers at Memorial Regional Hospital rushed the first patient to Room 9, which was devoted to the hope and practice of arresting death. They threaded fluid lines into her veins and readied a breathing tube. Even through gloves, they could feel the heat corseting the 84-year-old woman’s body.
“As they prepared to insert a catheter, they saw what looked like steam rising from her legs.
“The numbers from the catheter’s temperature gauge would not stop climbing. The nurses, respiratory technicians and other medical staff watched it halt at last at 41.9 degrees Celsius — 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It was only the fourth-highest body temperature Memorial would record that morning among elderly patients being evacuated from the nursing home nearby, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where air-conditioning had failed after Hurricane Irma chewed up power lines across the state.
“Eight residents of the nursing home were dead by the end of that day, Sept. 13, and three who were among the 140 evacuated have died since.”
Click here to continue reading this New York Times article in its entirety.
“Because emergencies and disasters strike quickly, you might be forced to evacuate your neighborhood or be prepared to be confined to your home. What would you do if your basic services: water, gas, electricity, or communications, were cut off? Recognizing that state and regulating agencies have specific responsibilities to protect those entrusted to their facility’s care, it is incumbent upon each of us to learn how to take precautions to protect ourselves and cope with disaster by planning in advance and by working with those in our support network: family, neighbors, friends, and caregivers, as well as local responders, as a team.”
Each week week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.Click here to download the newsletter as a .pdf file.