HHS Urges Long-Term Care Facilities to Update Emergency Preparedness Plans

By: Texas Health and Human Services Commission
| Published 05/29/2020

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AUSTIN, TX -- Texas Health and Human Services is working with long-term care providers to prepare for natural disasters ahead of a busy hurricane season forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Texas HHS is reminding providers across the state to review their emergency preparedness and response plans and make updates if necessary.

Long-term care providers include nursing and assisted living facilities, hospices, intermediate care facilities and group homes. These facilities regularly prepare for natural disasters, including hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes, and that preparation is even more crucial as they also deal with the uncertainties of an on-going health disaster.

“Staff at long-term care facilities protect and serve the vulnerable populations within them. That commitment doesn’t stop during a hurricane or pandemic,” said David Kostroun, HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner of Regulatory Services. “HHS is taking measures to get ahead of the curve to ensure that the staff and clients of these facilities are protected and prepared for possible evacuations or shelter-in-place orders during severe weather.”

In addition to long-term care facilities, Texas HHS also requires hospitals, dialysis centers, and state-regulated child care operations to maintain an updated emergency plan and ensure staff are fully trained on how to execute it.

This year’s emergency preparedness plans should factor in COVID-19 contingencies, including securing supplies of personal protective equipment and maintaining infection control measures and isolation protocols during evacuations. This is especially important for facilities that have suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

A complete emergency preparedness and response plan includes up-to-date information about the responsibility of each staff member, evacuation destinations, the continuation of care and treatments, transportation plans and communication procedures. Texas HHS provides guidance to providers about updating their plans.

Another resource for facilities can be found at https://texasready.gov. The website includes sample plans, disaster supply checklists, and more information on preparing for hurricanes and other emergencies.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which affects the Gulf Coast of Texas, begins June 1 and ends on November 30.

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