For East Coast nursing homes, things are heating up

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
For all the complaining about Chicago winters (which you are only allowed to do if you are a native), what generally gets missed is how lovely the summers here are compared to my home state of Virginia.

Statistics may not bear this out, but my memory of summers in Virginia were that it was 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity from about the time school let out in mid-June until the end of August. Combine that with large mosquitoes and I was well into adulthood before I realized some people have Fourth of July celebrations outdoors. 

So following Friday's derecho, I'm sympathetic to my friends without power right now back on the East Coast (especially the ones with babies and/or multiple children). And, of course, I immediately thought about emergency plans for nursing homes and hospitals that lost power.

There's been a lot of discussion about whether or not long-term care facilities are always prepared for disasters, and in South Carolina, there's some question of whether a lack of air conditioning may have led to the death of a resident. So it was good to chat with Stephen Morrisette, president of the Virginia Health Care Association, and find out that most of Virginia's nursing homes without power are making do with generators and a commitment to residents.

Morrisette estimates that on Monday, about 30% of the state's facilities were on generators; the Washington Post reported that in Maryland, 33 nursing homes were without power on Monday.

Most power companies make restoring power to nursing homes and hospitals a priority, and Morrisette says he believed Dominion Power will be able to get most facilities back up and running by Tuesday night.

The good news is that facility staff members throughout the state have been showing up, even though many may have faced storm damage at their own homes.

“They're pretty dedicated about getting in when they are in an emergency like this,” he said. “We're coping right now.”

It just goes to show: During a heat wave, it helps to have cool employees.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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