Emergency Preparedness Checklist
One of the hardest decisions an administrator will ever make during a disaster situation is whether or not to stay at their location by sheltering in place or evacuate residents to a safer haven. Regardless of where your nursing facility is located, it is exposed to disasters, which can occur at any time. Exposures range from earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes to power outages, chemical spills or even a flu pandemic. In other words, no location is immune to the possibility of an emergency, so it is important for everyone to be prepared.
Following the advent of Hurricane Katrina, the General Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a major study that analyzed what went wrong during the evacuation of nursing home residents. Among their discoveries included a lack of relevant information in emergency planning. Currently, all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes are required to have written emergency plans and provide employees with emergency preparedness training. As a result, most facilities are better prepared for a disaster; however, problems still exist with many plans concerning relevant information, such as not specifying "the amount of water needed to ensure sufficient supply for at least a week."
To assist facilities, officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new Emergency Preparedness Checklist on Feb. 28, 2014, which took effect in March. The Survey and Certification (S&C) memo is referenced as S&C-14-12-ALL, and includes more information and detailed guidance on resident tracking, collaboration of services and supplies, including the recommended amount of water to have available for each person.
The updated Emergency Preparedness checklist from the CMS.gov website suggests that facilities use FEMA's best practices and provides guidance on updating emergency plans. Taking the time to be adequately prepared can make a significant difference in the comfort and safety of your residents during an emergency.