Friday, September 15, 2017

Who Will Be Held Responsible for Nursing Home Deaths in Hurricane Irma?

I just have to rant. It sickens me to hear about nursing home residents suffering and dying in recent hurricanes. There's the haunting photo of people sitting in wheelchairs in water over their laps in the Houston area. But a later photo showed them all OK after being evacuated. At least no one died from that debacle.




Janice Connelly of Hollywood placed a memorial of balloons, 
flowers,
candles and signs for the eight people who died at the center.  
Credit Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
However, the 8 (so far) deaths in the Hollywood Fl rehab center are inexcusable. I hope the administrator and their owners are held responsible for these deaths.

Cooling measures are basic nursing care. And apparently the staff was doing their best to hydrate and cool patients. Obviously they needed more assistance and direction.

They also didn't ask for help when they needed to. Who was not there to ensure the disaster plan was being appropriately effected??? This is the responsibility of the administration and they FAILED their emergency planning and their residents miserably! This facility has been cited in the past for issues with generators and were well aware that they had issues with meeting codes for emergency planning. They corrected the issues, but FAILED to improve on the situation.

There were at least 3-5 days of accurate warnings about the severity of Hurricane Irma and potential disastrous effects including the challenges of power outages and downed trees. Hurricanes are not unusual happenings in Florida. They have a known "hurricane season" and there are evacuation signs up all over the state, so this isn't something new or unusual. Social media and television coverage for days were showing multitudes of preparation ideas for even basic things like how to bottle water and freeze bags of water for ice and drinking water.

Common sense tells you in a power outage scenario common to hurricanes, that generators need to be efficient enough to keep temperatures from becoming high enough to affect human life. Or you need to have a Plan B to sustain. And an emergency plan in place to say ask for help! In this case, a hospital was across the parking lot. Transfer your patients if you can't maintain cooling measures! The storm had passed by then.

CNN
Nurses and personnel working in long term care facilities are always the lowest paid and most overworked. No doubt. This is not on them. This is on the shoulders of the people in charge and the owners who did NOT ensure the comfort and safety of the residents. And in light of multiple failed routine checks by the governing agencies, this is pure criminal Abuse and Neglect at the highest level! These people who died were most likely bedridden and helpless. They relied on the staff to care for them and to protect them.

I am always one to say we have to look at both sides in a situation because there are always 2 sides. But this just wreaks. I cannot defend the owners and administrators in this one!

So let us all learn from this situation. Emergency and Disaster Preparedness planning is a pain to develop and to write policies!!!  But it's essential. And then we have to educate staff repeatedly and review when we know a potential disaster is coming. We can never assume that we can leave decision making to the low man on the totem pole. The buck stops at the top and that's who needs to be held responsible. These are the people who must be highly trained, present and active during disasters and emergencies.

But we MUST also ensure the tools are working, up to code and available. And that the disaster/emergency plan is being worked as it was designed to do. Drills are not just annoying time wasters! They help us to move into a crisis mode quickly and make correct decisions. They help us to learn where the strengths and weaknesses are and to improve our planning.

Owning and running long term care facilities is not just about making money and sitting back and letting the workerbees work their asses off with very little resources to try to make 99,000 residents in FL alone safe and comfortable. This is a HUGE responsibility to care for our rehabilitating and aging loved ones with the utmost respect, honor and care. This is a deplorable situation and one that should spark changes!!!

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