The reverberations of Hurricane Sandy's impact on the city are far from finished. We will be cleaning up and adapting for many months--likely years--into the future. Considering the predictions of some, we may even have to deal with large storms of this magnitude on a far more consistent basis. It affects all areas of life--including things like senior care and nursing home operations.
Many New Yorkers were shocked to learn of the goings-on at some long-term care facilities hit hardest by Sandy. Stories have been told of seniors stuck in upper levels of flooded facilities for days without power. Many questions have been raised about the management of the long-term care facilities and confusion over why the senior residents were not evacuated. In fact, in large part because of the struggle with NYC nursing home evacuations during Sandy, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will release new disaster planning for all nursing homes in the coming year.
Looking to the future, local residents are advised to understand evacuation plans for long-term care facilities where loved ones reside--or to ask about such plans when making nursing home choices. An AARP story recently profiled nursing home evacuation plans, pointing out the critical issues that facility caregivers need to consider. It is worth browsing the list to get an idea of the questions that owners and operators in New York need to be asked to ensure that seniors are protected in case any manner of natural or man-made disaster strikes requiring quick action.
As the post pithily explains: "You may not be able to control an explosion, earthquake, hurricane, power outage, terrorist attack or other catastrophic natural or human-created events. But, you can make sure you know what will happen to your parent or someone else dear to you should there be one."
There are no one-size fits-all evacuation plans. In fact, some plans need to be adapted on a per-resident basis, because needs vary considerably. For some seniors, it is not a difficult matter to load onto a vehicle and move to a safe location in a timely manner. For others, transportation and alternative living arrangement come with their own inherent dangers that need to be considered. For these residents, "sheltering in place" may be the most prudent choice. But no matter what, it is important that operators have a specific play in place to deal with all of these contingencies.
For help understanding the many different issues connected to finding the appropriate nursing homes for a loved one and paying for their care, consider contacting our New York elder law attorneys today.