State law requires long-term care facilities plan for disasters

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 2:30 AM EDT
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With Hurricane Idalia moving toward western Florida, long-term care facilities are starting to activate disaster plans.

The National Hurricane Center said Idalia is expected to create life-threatening storm surges, winds and floods as a Category 3 hurricane and possibly a Category 4..

Marilyn Hetherton, who lives in a nursing home, said she still preparing for the storm. The 81-year-old woman said she's not concerned about the storm after living in Florida for more than 40 years while carrying a machine to help her breathe.

“Hey, if it’s my time to go, I’ll go,” Hetherton said.

Deaths skewed toward older Americans during Hurricane Ian, according to a report from the National Weat It also said the pattern is consistent with other hurricanes making landfall even though the population in southwest Florida has more older people.

State law requires long-term care facilities to prepare a comprehensive emergency management plan, which must contain emergency evacuation transportation along with emergency power, food, and water.

Sister Diane Mack, who is the administrator for the Lourdes-Noreen McKeen Residence, said her facility has a plan and a checklist of supplies. She gets concerned calls from patients' families when a storm is in the forecast, but the biggest challenge is the arrangements staff have to make during a storm.

"Our staff are wonderful," Mack said. "We've had them for many, many years. They are very long-term. But, they also have families and they have to worry about their homes. But, they are very committed to Lourdes-McKeen. They make arrangements."

Those arrangements include child care and securing their homes before staying at the facility for shifts lasting three days.

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