LTC operators exercise caution, implement plans for Hurricane Sandy

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LTC operators exercise caution, implement plans for Hurricane Sandy
LTC operators exercise caution, implement plans for Hurricane Sandy

As waves pounded the Eastern Seaboard on Monday due to Hurricane Sandy, long-term care facilities put their disaster response plans to work.

About 900 residents evacuated facilities in New Jersey, officials with the American Health Care Association reported. In Atlantic City, NJ, as much as 80% of the city was already underwater Monday morning, local officials said.

AHCA officials also were in contact with emergency officials in Delaware and New York, spokesman Greg Crist said.

Sixty patients and 180 nursing home residents were moved from Long Beach Medical Center in Long Beach, NY, to Nassau County, the New York Times reported. Nursing homes in Westerly, RI, and Waterbury, CT, chose to evacuate their residents as well, according to local reports.  Overall, Connecticut had 1,400 civilian residences under mandatory evacuation orders as of early Monday evening; 375,000 New York residents also were told to evacuate.

“Facilities in the affected areas have done a good job bringing in additional staff as well as provisions,” said Richard Herrick, the president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and New York State Center for Assisted Living. “We will continue to post advisories as they come out on our website so that people can access them with their smart phones in the event of a widespread power outage. The major concern that is being monitored is to what degree the tide surge will have on the facilities as they are sheltering in place.”

The Health Facilities Association of Maryland and Lifespan postponed their annual conference on Friday. The meeting was set to run from Monday to Wednesday in Ocean City, MD, which was largely underwater by Monday evening. Before the storm, more than 700 SNF and rehab center employees were set to attend. A spokeswoman said they would plan to reschedule or provide alterative CEU options after Sandy clears the area.

“In such an emergency, the place for professional caregivers is with their residents and patients, and people with their families,” Joe DeMattos, the HFAM president, said in a statement.

While evacuations were being managed locally, DeMattos said the association began encouraging SNF and AL providers to review and check disasters plans last Thursday.  Several state affiliates of AHCA and LeadingAge also had conference calls on Friday to review emergency plans.

Officials say that long-term care facilities have upped their game in having clear and efficient emergency disaster plans since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many of the same nursing homes hit by Sandy successfully evacuated residents, rescheduled shifts or lost power during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and others lost power during a massive heat wave last summer.