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In the News

Care facilities now required to have emergency preparedness plans

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Long-term care facilities, hospices and home health agencies receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding must complete disaster planning by November 2017 including a risk assessment and an emergency plan. Emergency managers from Williamson County and its cities are assisting with this requirement, part of new federal rules which took effect at the end of 2016.

"This regional support is invaluable to the service providers," said Patty Bordie, Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area a division of CAPCOG. “Emergency manager expertise ensures patient-centered plans which include best practices in emergency preparedness.”

The rule also requires some of those organizations to complete a communications plan and emergency policies and procedures, but they all must update their plans and conduct exercises annually to participate in Medicaid and Medicare. These tasks are not as simple as stating you will contact your local emergency management office if a disaster occurs, said Dorothy Miller, Round Rock emergency management coordinator. These are complex tasks to prepare these organizations to respond to all types of emergencies.

Personnel from approximately 45 facilities participated in a forum with Williamson County area emergency managers as they explained the rule and described their roles and the four stages of a disaster. “The forum was really successful,” Miller said. “We had an open discussion about their concerns and what they needed from us. It was nice to work with them and guide them through the process. Now they have a better understanding of what the requirement does.”

Emergency managers distributed booklets with planning templates covering all types of hazards during the forum, while jurisdictional group sessions allowed emergency managers to answer questions and discuss realistic expectations of what local offices can do for the organizations pre and post disaster.

Networking was another great outcome of the forum, said Ron Weaver, Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council emergency preparedness and response coordinator, who attended the forum. “It is always better to know who you are working with, so you are not working with a stranger.” Because of the forum, these organizations have a starting point for building partnerships that support and learn from each other. They also can respond to incidents together instead of relying on themselves and their local emergency offices. “Emergency preparedness plans are extremely valuable to care facilities,” he said. “By instituting a plan and practicing it, these facilities are making their operations safer for their patients, their patients’ families, and their staff.” Other CAPCOG counties are considering hosting similar meetings to help local care facility providers.

> Learn about CATRAC.
> Find information about the new federal rule.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

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