Louisiana nursing homes must maintain an emergency preparedness plan

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The new law requires nursing homes to have their emergency plans approved by the state each year.

All Louisiana nursing homes are required to maintain an emergency preparedness plan approved by the Louisiana Department of Health, according to a law recently signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards.

The legislation requires each Louisiana nursing home to review and update its emergency preparedness plan annually and submit it to the Louisiana Department of Health Emergency Preparedness Officer, Funding Office health services, for approval no later than March 1 of each year.

If a care home makes substantial changes to its emergency preparedness plan, it is required to submit the revised plan for approval, as required by law.

The law stems from the tragic and botched evacuation of more than 800 residents of seven nursing homes in southeast Louisiana, who were evacuated to a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish before Hurricane Ida, a hurricane in category 4 that hit the state’s coast last August.

Bob Dean, owner of the seven nursing homes and warehouse, placed medically fragile residents in an ill-equipped, otherwise empty facility. More than a dozen residents evacuated to the warehouse died shortly after the event; at least five have been determined to be related to the storm.

Dean, from Georgia, was arrested a week ago after turning himself in to authorities and charged with eight counts of cruelty to persons with disabilities, as well as other counts related to the Medicaid fraud. He was released on $350,000 bond.

Louisiana’s new law is designed to ensure that such an event never happens again, and nursing homes have safe and well-thought-out evacuation plans in place.

Additionally, the act creates the Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness Review Committee, which will be responsible for “identifying risks and threats, identifying workforce issues for the loading, transporting and unloading of residents, and to develop…recommendations for emergency preparedness plans to promote the health, safety and well-being of retirement home residents.

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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