As we see our concern over the pandemic of 2020 waning, maybe it is time for us to look at other disaster preparedness protocols. As I watch the national news and weather reports, it is obvious that we are in the midst of spring weather threats. These threats are often catastrophic and often result in the loss of life.
For those living in the post-acute/skilled sector, a disaster plan is a requirement of participation established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The problem is that although there are requirements and we THINK we are meeting the standard, surveyors may think differently when they knock on your door. iAdvance Senior Care recently posted an article with a few things to look at that may assist you in developing or updating your disaster plan might include:
- How will we safely and efficiently manage weather-related emergencies? This is location-dependent, for example, in California you want to be sure to have a policy and procedure on managing an earthquake, etc.
- Is there a safe evacuation route? Remember the pavement issue a few years ago? It is still being looked at, do your emergency exits have paved areas to allow wheelchairs to be propelled easily?
- Are there disaster go-kits easily accessible? This is a huge bonus, not required but a bonus. These are “just in case” kits, ready to go with briefs, water, emergency supplies, etc.
- Are there hazards such as freestanding bookcases or hanging mirrors that can be better secured? Whenever I think of this it reminds me of a facility in Michigan where the surveyors required the provider to secure their free-standing closets in each room. Less than a month later, the facility flooded, and the closets were destroyed.
Whatever it looks like to you, wherever you live in the country, consider reviewing the requirements of participation and your disaster manual at your next QAPI committee. Ask the hard questions, don’t just check the boxes. Remember, disasters happen, lives can be lost and some may be avoided in the future if the appropriate steps are taken PRIOR to an event! Stay informed, stay well, and stay united!