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Improving relations between emergency management offices and nursing homes during hurricane-related disasters

Kathryn Hyer, PhD, MPP, Lisa M. Brown, PhD, Kali S. Thomas, MA, David Dosa, MD, MPH, Jennifer Bond, PhD, LuMarie Polivka-West, MSP, John A. Schinka, PhD


Objective: To document the importance of the relationship of nursing homes to emergency management entities before, during, and after hurricanes, and the operational challenges that nursing homes face, the authors report the effects of eight Florida (FL) hurricanes on 689 nursing homes (70,000 beds) during 2004 and 2005.
Design: Using a State Administrative data set of all nursing homes, the authors document the impact of the four major hurricanes on the homes’ ability to care for frail elders before, during, and after the storm. Supplementing State data are 257 self-reports from administrators on the impact of the hurricane on operations, resident care, and the importance of the relationship of the nursing home to local and state emergency operations entities.
Setting: Nursing homes.
Results: Almost one-third of all FL nursing homes either evacuated or sheltered residents from other facilities. No deaths during evacuation were reported for the 5,500 nursing home residents evacuated. Relationships with local emergency management offices prior to hurricanes were excellent, very good, or good for 58 percent of respondents. Regardless of the quality of the relationship, 80 percent of the respondents indicated that they would like to improve their relationship after 2004 season and 78 percent indicated they need to improve their disaster plans.
Conclusions: This article highlights the importance of establishing an effective working relationship between nursing homes and local emergency management offices during all phases of disaster preparedness to ensure that nursing home residents are safe.


nursing homes, residents, relationships with local emergency management entities, older adults

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