Hurricane Harvey, which is still affecting many nursing facilities, residents, and families in Texas and Louisiana, reminds us all of the importance of emergency preparedness and how disaster can strike at any moment. Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) and IDT members responsible for completing sections of the MDS should have a plan to accommodate for any disaster situation where there might be evacuations (to or from your facility), power outages, and other issues impacting your work and the care delivery of your residents.
Here are a few items for NACs to keep in mind in an emergency situation:
1. Resident Needs
Residents and staff will need an adequate supply of food and water for the duration of the emergency. Be sure to have descriptions and amounts of all of the food items available and a plan to obtain food and water during an emergency situation.
Medications and Medical Supplies
You’ll need to have extra medications stocked and available and a plan to obtain newly ordered or needed medications to meet the residents’ needs. Also, any extra medical supplies and equipment necessary to provide quality care should be on hand.
Backup generators are a must in order to maintain the right conditions for care. CMS also recently released interpretative guidance on how power needs must be included in the Emergency Preparedness Plan.
2. Loss of Power and Internet
Losing the ability to complete MDS data
Losing internet and power can prevent you from recording, transmitting, and printing important MDS documents. Be sure to back up your data and keep paper copies of the MDS available.
Be sure to review the requirements for ARD and PPS assessments.
If you find yourself unable to meet your OBRA required – RAI/MDS assessment requirements, contact your State Administrator to receive guidance about any extensions.
No access to your care plans
You need care plans to accurately provide quality care for your residents. Print copies of your care plans and keep them in a safe place to continue maintaining quality of care in the case that you lose power.
Transferring MDS and Care Plan Data
In addition to orders, medication records, and transfer documents, you will also need to make copies of the MDS and care plan for each resident and send them to the facility they are being evacuated to. Alternatively, if they are being evacuated to a sister facility, you may be able to provide the facility with electronic access to your records.
Transferring Home vs. Another Facility
Some families will prefer to have their loved ones home with them rather than evacuate, because it would be less traumatic for them. Determine ahead of time if this will be possible.
Be sure to fill out discharge assessments in the case that your residents must leave the facility for more than 30 days (K-5, p 26-27).
4. Contacting Families
Before, during, and after an emergency, family members will be especially worried. You must have a communication plan for contacting them and keeping them informed during an emergency situation. Be sure to have a printed phone, email, and address list in case you are unable to access one electronically.
*Keep in mind, this is not a full list of all that you need to know in an emergency, but only a few important things that you as the MDS coordinator need to be sure to take care of. Be prepared for emergencies and make sure to go through all of the Emergency Preparedness Templates & Checklists from CMS.
Our thoughts are with all of the facilities and staff, residents, and families affected by Hurricane Harvey. As your professional association and family, know that we are here to help you endure and get through this disaster. If you need any assistance, or know of anyone who could use assistance, we will work very hard to help in any way we can. If we can help with any facilitation or resources, please reach out to us at 800.768.1880.