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FHCA Prepares for 2023 Hurricane Season

Nursing Center Storm Response Focuses on Resident and Staff Safety

Tallahassee, Fla. – With the 2023 hurricane season set to begin June 1, the Florida Health Care Association reminded Floridians about the storm response plans of long term care facilities, which are designed to ensure the safety of Florida's nearly 70,000 nursing center residents and the staff who care for them. Facilities' emergency response decisions will be guided by plans to address power outages, procedures to determine whether to evacuate or shelter in place, and compliance with regulations issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

FHCA members prepare year-round for crises, and particularly the potential dangers of hurricane season, by using a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Those plans include fuel checks and generator preparations, disaster planning, emergency supply restocks, facility hardening, communication plans, and ongoing partnerships with appropriate outside agencies, including emergency management offices, utilities and transportation providers.

FHCA members' plans involve partnerships with local authorities regarding emergency power in the event of an outage while a facility is sheltering in place or in the event a facility would need to be evacuated. Evacuation planning strategies involve confirming which other facilities would receive evacuated residents, ensuring transportation arrangements, and making staffing decisions. Facilities have also readied themselves for potential shelter-in-place determinations, which would require additional supplies and preparations.

“In the last several years, exceptionally powerful hurricanes have provided stark reminders of the importance of preparing for all contingencies. That’s why we offer training to support our members with their detailed emergency plans, outlining the steps they'll take in the event of a natural disaster,” said FHCA CEO Emmett Reed. "Nothing is more important to us than safeguarding the well-being of the residents entrusted to our care, and that's why planning is such a fundamental part of our disaster preparations."

As part of its emergency preparedness activities, FHCA recently held a Life Safety and Emergency Management Summit, during which hundreds of administrators and plant operations staff gathered to review past storms and best practices for effective response and recovery. Representatives from AHCA, local emergency management offices and experienced providers were among those leading the panel presentations.

“During an active storm, FHCA takes the lead on holding partner briefings with providers, regulatory and emergency operation agency representatives, utility partners, and other stakeholders to review hurricane planning activities with facilities, and to field providers’ questions and provide updates," said Reed. "I'm proud of our members who have persevered through the challenges of previous hurricane seasons. Our role is always to support their efforts to provide the highest quality of care under even the most difficult circumstances." 

May 19, 2023

Kristen Knapp, APR
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