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Nursing home evacuations due to disasters in the United States over 22.5 years from 1995 to 2017

Aishwarya Sharma, DO, Sharon E. Mace, MD, FACEP, FAAP

Abstract


A large and growing segment of the United States population resides in nursing homes. Many nursing home residents have multiple comorbidities, are unable to perform activities of daily living, and need assistance for their daily functioning. They are some of the most fragile and vulnerable members of the population. Disasters are increasing in frequency and severity. This makes it likely that disasters will strike nursing homes and affect their residents. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the characteristics of disasters in the United States that resulted in nursing home evacuations. There were 51 reported nursing home evacuations due to a disaster over 22.5 years between 1995 and 2017. Natural disasters were responsible for the majority of evacuations (58.8 percent) followed by man-made unintentional disasters (37.3 percent) and man-made intentional (arson) (3.9 percent). The single most common reason for evacuation was hurricanes (23.5 percent, N = 12) and internal fires (23.5 percent, N = 12). Water-related disasters accounted for nearly three-fourths of the natural disasters (hurricanes 40 percent, N = 12; floods, 33.3 percent, N = 10; total 73.3 percent, N = 22), then snow/ice storms (13.3 percent, N = 4). Of man-made disasters, over two-thirds (66.7 percent) were due to internal fires (internal fires, n = 12, 57.1 percent and arson n = 2, 9.5 percent; total N = 14, 66.7 percent). The highest number of evacuations occurred in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. This knowledge should enable nursing home administrators, disaster planners, public health officials, and others to improve preparedness for disasters that lead to nursing home evacuations.


Keywords


nursing homes, evacuations, disasters, United States

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2021.0393

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