With hurricane season fast approaching, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today released storm response plans for long term care facilities, designed to ensure that the association’s more than 600 nursing centers are fully prepared and capable to handle the upcoming season. The plans are designed to ensure safety for Florida’s nearly 70,000 nursing center residents and the staff who care for them, as well as compliance with regulations issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration and federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
FHCA is dedicated to making sure its member centers have the tools they need to protect their residents from any major events – especially major storms – that may occur, while maintaining high-quality care. In preparation for this upcoming season, FHCA recently hosted a member-wide hurricane preparedness webinar in partnership with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and Florida Department of Health. Additionally, Florida’s nursing centers have reviewed their comprehensive emergency response plans, ensured that all generators are in compliance with safety requirements, developed plans to respond to power outages, and restocked their emergency supplies.
“Since we’re in the most hurricane-prone state, our nursing centers train and prepare throughout the year for hurricane season,” said FHCA CEO Emmett Reed. “The training and tools we offer to our members help ensure that nursing center residents and staff are ready for a disaster at any time. Being prepared is vitally important to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable residents.”
Through the Agency for Health Care Administration, FHCA and its members also utilize a resource called the Emergency Status System. The system is used to update a facility’s census, available beds, utilities, evacuation plans, generators, damages related to storms, and other reportable event-related information. This enables nursing centers to report their status so additional assistance and resources can be made available to them quickly if needed.
In addition to their own preparations, FHCA members have also worked on plans with their local authorities regarding emergency power in the event of an outage while a facility is sheltering-in-place or in the event a facility would need to be evacuated. Evacuation planning strategies involve confirming which facilities would receive evacuated residents, ensuring transportation arrangements, and making staffing decisions. Facilities have also readied themselves for potential shelter-in-place determinations, which would require additional supplies and preparations.
Additionally, with the COVID-19 pandemic still an ongoing concern, FHCA’s facilities are prepared to safely manage both the virus and a potential major storm through infection precautionary measures and other protections.
“FHCA’s members are well equipped to handle any crisis, as they have shown throughout the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and in the way they persevered through previous hurricane seasons,” Reed said. “I’m confident this hurricane season will be no different and our facilities will continue to provide the highest quality care under even the most difficult circumstances.”
ABOUT THE FLORIDA HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION
The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation that serves nearly 1,000 members and represents more than 700 long-term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and subacute care, short-term rehab, assisted living, and other services to the elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development, and financial stability of its members. As Florida’s first and largest advocacy organization for long-term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about the Florida Health Care Association, visit http://www.fhca.org.