Preparedness isn’t a word to describe storm preparation; it means keeping your center ready for ALL hazards and for ANY Situation. The definition of preparedness is “a state of readiness”.
Physical plant preparedness for healthcare centers began when the structure was first conceived in the form of blueprints. Architects and engineers designed the facility’s physical plant to meet all state, federal, municipal and life safety codes.
Florida building codes and regulations for life safety in healthcare facilities are in the initial structure of the designs. Once the plans are completed, they are reviewed, permitted, inspected and approved by local and county building departments and by AHCA’s Office of Plans and Construction. Plans for skilled nursing centers also include all CMS regulations. The contractor builds the facility using the approved plans to include final inspections, warranties and the certificate of occupancy.
Why is this important? Because every facility’s preventive maintenance program starts with the approved, designed blue prints. Each page of the engineered plans is a different system, i.e. fire alarm, nurse call, HVAC, generator, etc. The maintenance of each of these systems should always follow the approved plans and specifications established when they were designed. A preventive maintenance log book must be kept on all the systems being maintained at each facility. These logs are retained for seven years.
In addition to ensuring that all your systems are maintained as they were designed to be, it is essential that all staff are trained on your center’s county approved Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (C.E.M.P) and are comfortable using it. The C.E.M.P or “Disaster Manual” has different sections showing the procedures to follow for each type of disaster situation identified by the facility leadership during the hazard analysis (fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, etc.). Your “plan” can’t be to call maintenance, the administrator or the EOC; the plan is designed for all staff to be prepared to handle each situation.
Each facility must identify and prepare an “area of refuge” for your residents. When an event occurs such as a temperature event, tornado, hurricane, etc., this will be the area that is hardened to keep your residents safe and comfortable. When establishing your area of refuge, use a guideline of 30 sq. ft. per person in a skilled nursing facility and 20 sq. ft. per person in an assisted living facility. Temperatures must be maintained between 71 and 81 degrees at all times in this area, as shown in your generator plan. Your dining room and/or your hallways that are closest to the kitchen are smart choices for your area of refuge as this ensures your food and water are close during an event.
Tips for Preparedness
- Use FHCA’s Plant Operations Checklist for ideas of items that will be needed during an event
- Make sure directors have the facility’s vendors list with phone numbers
- Make sure others have the “keys” to the facility and know how to shut-off power, drive the big van, etc.
- Rent a “box truck”; this is great to have on hand, even if not planning to evacuate
- Set up credit accounts with a glass repair company, local grocery store, generator rental company, etc. since cash and checks are not always available during an event
The FHCA website has valuable tools available to assist with disaster preparation.