Tallahassee, FL - Nursing homes have several new resources to help prepare for emergencies such as hurricanes and other disasters. The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), in partnership with the John A. Hartford Foundation and the University of South Florida, recently published the Emergency Management Guide for Nursing Homes, along with a software application for developing nursing home emergency management plans. These new tools provide nursing home administrators, corporate representatives, owners and key emergency management staff with powerful information for developing all-hazards emergency plans.
The Association has also launched a new Web page dedicated to nursing home emergency preparedness at http://www.fhca.org/emerprep/index.php. The new tools are featured on the Web page, along with other helpful resources and links for nursing homes. These and additional national emergency preparedness resources are also available through the American Health Care Association's bookstore at http://www.ahcancal.org.
The comprehensive 290-page Emergency Management Guide includes the Nursing Home Incident Command System, developed by FHCA in partnership with the Florida Department of Health, plus other guidance for emergency preparedness. The Guide provides an overview of how to develop a comprehensive emergency plan, details for creating policies and procedures and a template for conducting training and exercises based on the Department of Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program. The Guide also features hazard-specific information and highly specialized tips and procedures developed by providers through lessons learned during previous emergency situations.
The Comprehensive Emergency Management Software Application for Nursing Homes is based on national standards for emergency planning and takes nursing home emergency managers through a step-by-step development of individualized emergency plans that reflect the hazards and vulnerabilities of their particular facilities.
Emergency plans generated with the software can be updated as often as needed to incorporate new procedures, key contacts or other relevant information. The software also provides direction for developing standard operating procedures for emergency situations and helps users identify and describe their response to specific hazards, such as severe weather, extended power outages or wildfires, which may threaten a nursing home and its residents.
FHCA has distributed the Guide and software free to more than 500 nursing homes in Florida and to state health care associations across the country, as well as other state and national partners.
These new tools are the result of a two-year grant awarded by the John A. Hartford Foundation to the Florida Health Care Education and Development Foundation, FHCA's 501(c)(3) foundation. Key partners in the Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness for Long-Term Care Facilities grant project include the University of South Florida and the Florida Department of Health Office of Emergency Operations. Work on the project began in 2006 with in-depth discussions among nursing home executives from vulnerable southeastern coastal states at two regional Nursing Home Hurricane Summits. The project also developed extensive partnerships with the Florida Department of Health Office of Emergency Operations, the Agency for Health Care Administration and others to create the new tools for nursing homes.
These proactive measures proved extremely helpful to nursing homes during Tropical Storm Fay. Facilities made the necessary preparations regarding operations, resident care, physical structure and communications in preparation of the inclement weather, and staff was equipped with the knowledge and resourced needed to handle anticipated evacuations or, as in many cases, the decision to shelter-in-place.
"Florida nursing homes have made tremendous progress since 2004 as a result of our diligence to develop these types of tools and partnerships that help to ensure the safety of our residents and staff," said Deborah Franklin, chair of the Florida Health Care Association, the statewide trade group that represents Florida's long term care facilities.
For more information about the Emergency Management Guide for Nursing Homes or the Comprehensive Emergency Management Software Application for Nursing Homes, contact FHCA at (850) 224-3907 or visit the FHCA Web site www.fhca.org.
ABOUT THE FLORIDA HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation of over 500 long term care facilities that provide skilled nursing care, short-term rehab, assisted living and other services to the frail elderly and individuals with developmental disabilities in Florida. FHCA was founded on the premise that its members have a moral obligation to the residents they serve, and since 1954 the Association has worked diligently to improve 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 www.fhca.org.
ABOUT THE Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) Education and Development Foundation In 1983, FHCA formed the Florida Health Care Education and Development Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to promoting scholarship programs for nurses and caregivers. The Foundation focuses on continuous quality improvement programs; mentoring; scholarships; and disaster preparedness, response and recovery. The Education and Development Foundation seeks private funding through foundations, grants and other contributions to accomplish its mission of enhancing the quality of care in nursing homes, and, in 2006, was awarded a two-year grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to develop and promote disaster planning products and training materials for nursing homes in Florida and the southern coastal states. For more information about the Florida Health Care Education and Development Foundation, visit www.fhca.org.
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