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Emergency preparedness can prevent dehydration in nursing homes

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to motivate large institutions to change. The recent events in which several nursing home residents died after Hurricane Irma have federal lawmakers ready to expand rules about backup power sources in these facilities. Pennsylvania nursing homes will not have to ensure that the emergency plan maintains a backup power supply in case of emergency. In the event of a loss of power during a heat wave, nursing home residents are vulnerable to dehydration and heatstroke. 

Starting November 16 of this year, all nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds must adopt new emergency preparedness standards. Among the new regulations is the requirement that nursing homes have a secondary source of power to maintain safe temperatures within the nursing home. In the event of an emergency, this will preserve food, medication and residents' health. 

State healthcare officials are preparing to make the change. The Pennsylvania Health Care Association has reported that a majority of state senior care facilities have generators as a backup supply, but no actual numbers were provided. The Association also reported that state homes must maintain an emergency preparedness plan, and that plan should be updated annually. 

In Pennsylvania, individuals in nursing homes are vulnerable to emergencies of all types. In the event of high temperatures, or lack of water supply, individuals may suffer dehydration. Nursing homes are expected to conform to federal and state regulations for preparedness. If an individual has been injured or lost their life due to a lack of preparation for an emergency, the person or their family may have a claim. An attorney may be of assistance if an individual is harmed by their care facility. 

Source: mcall.com, "New rules designed to prevent deaths that happened at Florida nursing home after hurricane", Paul Muschick, Sept. 15, 2017

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