Function and Response of Nursing Facilities During Community Disaster.

Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 94, no. 8, Aug. 2004, p. 1436-1441

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003

by Debra Saliba, Joan L. Buchanan, Raynard Kington

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OBJECTIVES: The authors sought to describe the role and function of nursing facilities after disaster. METHODS: They surveyed administrators at 144 widely dispersed nursing facilities after the Los Angeles Northridge earthquake. RESULTS: Of the 113 (78%) nursing facilities that responded (11 365 beds), 23 sustained severe damage, 5 closed (625 beds), and 72 lost vital services. Of 87 nursing facilities implementing disaster plans, 56 cited problems that plans did not adequately address, including absent staff, communication problems, and insufficient water and generator fuel. Fifty-nine (52%) reported disaster-related admissions from hospitals, nursing facilities, and community residences. Nursing facilities received limited postdisaster assistance. Five months after the earthquake, only half of inadequate nursing facility disaster plans had been revised. CONCLUSIONS: Despite considerable disaster-related stresses, nursing facilities met important community needs. To optimize disaster response, community-wide disaster plans should incorporate nursing facilities.

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