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Emergency preparedness can mean life or death in a nursing home

During regular tours or visits to a nursing home, the facility may seem well taken care of. Staffing levels can be appropriate; it can look neat and clean; residents may seem calm and well attended. However, a facility may not be as safe and attentive as it seems in times when safety features prove to be the most critical.

During a severe weather emergency, a nursing home’s disaster risk reduction protocols can play an enormous role in the survival rate of residents, according to a recent study.

A devastating situation

Researchers examined nursing homes in Florida following 2017’s Hurricane Irma. According to reports, the one nursing home lost power in the storm, which also led to a prolonged power failure of the air conditioning system. The temperature inside the facility skyrocketed. A total of 12 residents died as a result.

The study also found that close to 700 additional residents died in the aftermath of the hurricane, due to a variety of contributing factors with regards to their care.

Who is to blame?

In light of the horrific situation, there has been plenty of finger pointing. The facility failed to evacuate the residents when the home got too hot. They waited too long to get the help they needed to care for their residents, despite having a hospital down the street.

The power company failed to provide the help or repairs the home desperately needed. Calls from relatives and facility workers went unanswered in the days after the storm.

County officials were blamed for failing to categorize the nursing home as “top-tier” infrastructure that would have prioritized its power needs in an emergency.

What Michiganders can learn from this situation

This situation is a grim but important reminder to take a deeper look at the facility in which your loved one may be living. What happens if the home loses power during a severe winter storm, for instance?

  • Is there an emergency plan in place?
  • Are there sources of backup power?
  • Will the residents be evacuated?

Educating yourself on these policies and procedures can be critical, especially in a state where storms and blizzards can cause serious problems for facilities like nursing homes.

Should your loved one fall ill or pass away as a result of a nursing home’s negligence or failed safety precautions, it can be critical that you consult an attorney to help investigate the situation. They can work to identify the liable party and take legal action to pursue the justice you deserve.

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