If you have ever evacuated for a hurricane you know how stressful it can be. Gathering clothes, required medications and essentials, packing up the kids and pets into the car and then sitting in traffic for 12 hours to make a 4-hour trip as you try to get as far away from the impact zone as possible. Now, imagine doing all of that, but instead of kids and pets, you are trying to evacuate elderly, sick people.
This is a very real scenario for nursing homes located in areas where hurricanes are a distinct possibility. In recent years, the number and intensity of hurricanes have been increasing. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm, decimated the Gulf Coast. In 2017, Hurricane Maria almost wiped Puerto Rico off the map and almost a year later the island is still not back to normal.
Following Hurricane Katrina, a study was done by Europe PMC to examine the mortality and hospitalization rates among nursing facility residents in the affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi 30 days after the storm in 2005. This study was designed to assess the effects of evacuation efforts on seniors compared to residents residing at the same facilities during hurricane seasons of prior non-hurricane years, 2003 and 2004.
The study found there were statistically significant differences in mortality and hospitalization rates among residents having to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina. At 30 days, the mortality rate was 3.88% compared to 2.10% during non-hurricane times. These mortality differences translated into an additional 148 deaths at 30 days. In addition to deaths, the 30-day hospitalization rate was 9.87% compared to 7.21%. When looking at these numbers it is clear that the lack of proper care and facilities during an evacuation is deadly for seniors in nursing home facilities. Though, this is only one documented case study of mortality amongst seniors during hurricanes. Katrina was a catastrophic storm, but even for smaller storms, nursing home facilities are being evacuated simply due to losing power. These evacuations can easily be avoided in less severe instances with the application of emergency generators in nursing home facilities.
Evacuating Seniors Has Risks
Evacuating is a safe option for most people during hurricanes, but what is so harmful about evacuating seniors that it’s causing a higher mortality and hospitalization rate? Stress. Even for healthy, young individuals, evacuating is still a very stressful process. When evacuating, you have to prepare a shelter, food, and all other personal necessities that you require daily. For a capable person, this is stressful, but for a senior citizen in a nursing home facility, this is extremely overwhelming and even dangerous to their well-being. Someone who has many more needs than the average person requires much more effort when evacuating. Something simple like medication that needs to be refrigerated becomes a burden. Imagine transporting someone who needs their medication refrigerated as well as breathing assistance or continuous heart monitoring. The need for generators in senior care facilities is more than obvious. The simple loss of air conditioning in the event of a power outage is a simple burden to all people making living uncomfortable, but to the elderly, it can endanger their lives depending on their condition. Most of the residents in senior living facilities have machines or devices either supporting them or closely monitoring their vital signs. Devices such as life support, feeding tubes, heart monitors, air tanks, and so on. Losing power means these devices can’t function to provide the necessary functions or the close monitoring these people need in nursing home facilities. Aside from mandatory evacuations, moving senior citizens from facilities is harmful and doesn’t make sense when a safer option is having a standby generator system installed at facilities. It is so important that, in some cases, the government will fund these systems.
Grants for Nursing Home Generators
After the devastating storms like Katrina, Rita, Ike, Irma, and Harvey of recent years, the government and FEMA have begun allotting large grants for nursing home facilities to use for equipping facilities with high-quality, emergency generators and other hurricane preparedness equipment. In Louisiana, $19,500 are being granted to each individual facility for improvements including generators. These grants may not be known by some nursing home facilities, but it is urged that this grant money is put to use to ensure the safety of seniors for future hurricane seasons. To apply for grant money visit www.ldh.la.gov.
For emergency power solutions during this and future hurricane seasons, Total Energy Solutions (TES) can provide turnkey installation for all types of generators. TES installs diesel, propane, and natural gas generators and offers preventative generator maintenance and load bank testing as required by NFPA law. Whether you are replacing an existing generator, installing a new generator, or need an existing generator repaired, we can handle your needs and provide unparalleled customer service to you and your company year-round. Total Energy Solutions is just that, your TOTAL energy solution.