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Skilled Care Centers Face, Pass Disaster Preparedness Test of Isaac  
Skilled Care Centers Face, Pass Disaster Preparedness Test of Isaac
Hurricane bested by continued caregiver resolve across Louisiana and Mississippi

Contact: Michael Cowden
(202) 898-3165

Washington, D.C. – Skilled nursing care associations from the states of Louisiana and Mississippi today heralded their respective disaster response plans as the last remnants of Hurricane Isaac left their borders.  In all, Louisiana evacuated 12 centers and over 1,200 residents and patients with no reported fatalities or serious injury, while an additional 55 facilities were forced to rely on generator power but did not evacuate.  In Mississippi, just ten centers shifted briefly to generator power during the brunt of the hurricane, yet evacuated no facilities and reported no serious injuries. 

“The coordination between our association’s Emergency Operations Team, the state department of health, and officials in the governor’s office was nearly seamless throughout the days leading up to landfall and the storm’s slow passage out of the state,” said Joe Donchess, Executive Director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. “Lessons learned from four major hurricanes that impacted Louisiana in the past seven years helped to prepare the staffs of nursing facilities for Hurricane Isaac.  I’m proud of our members who faced and passed this important test.  We thank Governor Jindal for his hard work and compassion.”

“Mississippi was prepared as best as we could be for the landfall of Hurricane Isaac,” said Vanessa Phipps Henderson, Executive Director of the Mississippi Health Care Association (MHCA). “Prior, during and after the storm, we hosted two conference calls per day with families of residents in hurricane-affected areas so they would know about our preparations and precautions. These calls also included representatives from the state agencies of health and emergency management. We thank Governor Bryant for his leadership.  This was a great team effort. ”

Across the nation, skilled nursing care centers have continually sought to improve their disaster response plans, adopting best practices and new innovations developed in the wake of previous storms and natural disasters.  This effort includes a Nursing Home Incident Command System – a comprehensive method of organizing and coordinating emergency efforts in the long term care community.  Additionally, many state associations offer their facilities resources such as training seminars, toolkits, website resources, data collection systems and simulated emergency preparedness exercises.  In total, over 92% of the nation’s skilled nursing centers have the proper plans and procedures in place to prepare for emergency situations, according to the CMS Office of Inspector General.

“We’re constantly adapting, innovating and improving our methods to address these catastrophes,” said Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association. “Issac is another example of the progress we’ve made.  But we’re not giving up on doing even better next time.”