Nursing Home Residents Vulnerable During Evacuations
According to a new study, nursing home evacuations ahead of a hurricane showed a 218% increase in mortality among the most vulnerable residents (those with severe dementia) after they were moved within the governmental guidelines for relocation. The study’s findings, which reviewed nursing homes evacuations over a three-year period, comes on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast hard with a wave of destruction at the end of October.
“We don’t know why these deaths are occurring after evacuations,” said Lisa Brown, a lead author of the dementia study and a professor of aging studies at the University of South Florida-Tampa. “This is the first report to quantify the deaths. It tells us we need to think through evacuations. “There’s a shortfall when it comes to mental health issues,” she added. “Dementia, depression and anxiety are not being dealt with.”
The study covered the fate of 21,255 residents within 30 days of an evacuation from their Gulf Coast facilities. The increase of deaths within 90 days was 158%.
The findings from the study were announced at the Gerontological Society of America‘s annual meeting on November 15 in San Diego. This follows a government study released in April that reported “gaps’” in nursing home evacuation plans.
“Sheltering in place” is the preferred method for dealing with residents, Brown says, because of the risks of relocation. There was a four-fold spike in evacuations from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when about 140 patients drowned in nursing homes, through Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
Working with nursing homes on their evacuation plans and other disaster planning and risk management issues is critical in helping to minimize exposures and losses. At Caitlin-Morgan, we can assist you in securing a comprehensive nursing home insurance program for nursing homes and implementing a risk management plan for your clients.