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Are nursing homes and assisted living facilities prepared for hurricane season?

At this unprecedented time, when you cannot even visit a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, its critical to make sure the facility is ready for hurricane season.

Christopher Uejio, an assistant professor of geography at Florida State who works on health policy issues, said the state’s long-term care facilities are facing a dual-threat right now with the pandemic and the upcoming storm season.

Residents at the state’s long-term care facilities have been sheltering in place since mid-March, with no outside visitors allowed inside.

“With COVID transmission these facilities should also consider sheltering in place up to the category of where they might have normally or where they might need to evacuate or either further harden their infrastructure. They should build those social networks to increase options for transportation if they do need to evacuate and have plans and procedures to be able to connect with one’s loved ones in the off chance they do have to evacuate,” he said.

If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, first find out if the facility is in an area that’s vulnerable to storm surge. You should also call the facility director and ask if they have appropriate generators in place if the facility were to lose power.

After Hurricane Irma in 2017, the state passed an emergency power rule which required the majority of the state’s nursing homes to have backup power in place.

Uejio said nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not created equally: There is far more regulation on nursing homes.

“There can be a wide range. Some (assisted living facilities) can be tied to facilities with nursing homes that follow similar regulations… On the other hand there might be a small business owner that just cares for a few patients who may have just started after the last hurricane season and not even have experience with that,” he said.

Jan Trefzer, who acts as power of attorney for her brother and sister-in-law, said she called their assisted living facility to go over the plan and felt better after she did.

“Their plan is to be on the second floor …. they have generators, they have food. They will shelter in place.”

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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