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Florida's Advocate for Long Term Care Providers and the Elders They Serve

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FHCA Prepares Ahead of 2024 Hurricane Season

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As June 1st marks the start of the 2024 hurricane season, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) wants to educate Floridians across the state about the preparedness best practices and storm response plans of Florida’s long-term care (LTC) facilities. The top priority of FHCA member facilities is to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents and staff when emergency situations arise. Florida’s LTC facilities are committed to go above and beyond to safeguard those entrusted to their care by implementing year-round preparations, comprehensive planning, and supplemental trainings, along with meeting compliance regulations issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

“When catastrophic storms take aim at Florida, it’s imperative for our members to respond with the preparedness plans they have in place,” said Emmett Reed, CEO of FHCA. “Our members have comprehensive emergency plans outlining their practices and the resources needed before, during, and after a natural disaster to ensure the care and safety of their residents and the staff who care for them. During times of crises, the first and greatest priority is their well-being.”

FHCA members are equipped year-round for crises, including the heightened threat of natural disasters during hurricane season, by implementing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Components of the plan involve fuel checks and generator preparations, disaster planning, emergency supply restocks, facility hardening, communication plans, and ongoing partnerships with relevant outside agencies, including emergency management offices, utilities, and transportation providers. 

FHCA members also have strategic partnerships in place with local authorities to help facilitate courses of action for several scenarios, from a power outage occurring while the facility is sheltering in place to the series of events leading to an evacuation. Evacuation planning policies and protocols are taken with the highest precautions, as many residents require extra assistance and arrangements for transportation, including residents with physical disabilities and those in memory care. This planning includes communication with other facilities that would receive evacuated residents and adjust staffing accordingly. 

In addition to continual coordinated preparedness efforts with agencies, FHCA recently took part in a stakeholder meeting with AHCA and the Florida Division of Emergency Management to discuss the ongoing work of the association and these agencies to ensure the safety of LTC residents and staff.  FHCA also conducted an emergency preparedness webinar for assisted living facilities in April, along with a Life Safety training for nursing center plant operations managers that included training reminders on required life safety maintenance, emergency generator reminders, and an overview of emergency preparedness.

In early June, FHCA is hosting its Annual Hurricane Preparedness Webinar with representatives from AHCA, safety and security consultants Jensen Hughes, and FHCA emergency response team members to share strategies and tools to assist nursing centers and assisted living facilities with preparing for the 2024 hurricane season. Speakers will offer best practices to assist Florida centers with planning, preparation, and response to an incoming hurricane and tips for establishing clear lines of communication both before and after a storm.

“Throughout an active emergency situation, FHCA steps in to provide members with briefings, facilitate communications with regulatory and emergency operation agency representatives, utilities, and other stakeholders to provide updates and field questions,” said Reed. “The planning and preparedness efforts our members put in throughout the year allow for streamlined and efficient action when disaster strikes. I’m confident the planning and training completed this year will equip our members to meet our highest priority of ensuring the safety of all those entrusted to their care.”  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 29, 2024

PRESS CONTACT:
Kristen Knapp, APR
850-510-4389 or kknapp@fhca.org