Nursing homes ordered to have emergency plans

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The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has approved new regulations requiring the state's nursing homes to have an emergency preparedness plan.

With the new hurricane season having begun June 1, and with a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana DHH said nursing homes must activate their plan annually and have one that conforms to the guidelines established by the Office of Emergency Preparedness. The new rules are not official effective until April 1, but state officials have asked that the rules apply to this hurricane season as well.

The DHH reviews each facility's plan to determine its viability. Previously, the state just wanted to know that a plan existed, now it will review each facility's plan and require nursing homes to correct any weaknesses in their plans.

The state requires that each plan developed by a nursing facility, include an outline of procedures and criteria to determine if a facility should evacuate or shelter in place, the name of primary and alternate sheltering sites, a description of how essential services will be provided to residents and highlight necessary information about each resident's medical information and medical needs.

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