Louisiana nursing homes’ emergency preparedness plans must be approved by the state’s Department of Health each year under a new law signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards (R), his office announced.

The measure, HB 291, was fully approved by lawmakers earlier this month and mandates that nursing homes maintain a state-approved emergency preparedness plan “at all times.” 

Providers must review and update its emergency preparedness plan and submit the full plan to the Louisiana Department of Health by no later than March 1 of each year. If facilities make changes to the plan, they must submit the revised plan to the state for approval again. 

The state also will be charged with identifying “risks and threats, identifying manpower issues for loading, transporting, and unloading residents, and developing recommendations for emergency preparedness plans to promote the health, safety, and welfare of nursing home residents,” the legislation states.

The new law was signed just days before Louisiana skilled nursing operator Bob Dean was arrested this week over botched evacuations during Hurricane Ida that left a dozen residents dead.

Public outrage followed the evacuation of more than 800 residents to an otherwise empty warehouse in preparation for Hurricane Ida. The residents were all from facilities owned by Dean, who also owned the warehouse. 

After conditions at the warehouse declined post-evacuation, state officials revoked licenses and terminated state Medicaid provider agreements for Dean’s nursing homes.

State lawmakers also have passed legislation mandating nursing homes have powered generators.