Florida seniors, nursing homes brace for Hurricane Irma

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across South Florida are preparing for Hurricane Irma to strike, and they have emergency plans in place to help keep seniors safe.

The Florida Health Care Association, a federation representing 81% of the state’s nursing centers, has been hosting daily disaster calls with nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to help them prepare for the storm, association spokeswoman Kristen Knapp said.

For now, most facilities are not requiring evacuation; staffers are monitoring the hurricane until they receive direction from local emergency management agencies that they are required to evacuate, she said. Mandatory evacuations have been issued in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties, she said.

However, in the case of mandatory evacuations, they are prepared with residents’ medications and other needs.

“Each facility has been instructed to prepare in advance seven to 10 days of medication, oxygen and other medical necessities for each resident. The facility packages the medications, along with the current orders, and sends (them) with the resident in the case of an evacuation,” Knapp wrote in an email.

“Pharmacies are refilling medications to ensure that facilities can send an ample supply with the residents,” she said. In other words, “if evacuation is instructed by local or state authorities, residents needing medication will be authorized for refills on any and all medications, regardless of last refill date.”

Holiday Retirement, which owns 30 assisted- and senior living communities across Florida, housing 3,900 seniors, has been working closely with the Florida Health Care Association in preparation, said Lori Colwell, the company’s district vice president of operations for Florida.

Holiday Retirement communities have buses on standby in case of evacuation, more than 400 cots and linens, three days’ worth of nonperishable foods in addition to twice their normal supply of food, 300 gallons of spring water and generator backups in case the communities lose power, Colwell said.

As for residents’ medications, the communities have been supplied with a one-week emergency medication supply on top of the 30-day supply they have for residents, Colwell said.

“If we indeed need to evacuate, we do ask the residents to pack three to five days of clothing,” she said. “We are right now sheltering in place until we get the evacuation order.”

Shell Point Retirement Community, which houses 2,400 senior…

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