Sunday, December 11, 2005

TX & LA both had inadequate plans for sick and elderly in Katrina, Rita

Houston Chronicle:
"Thousands of Gulf Coast nursing home residents faced preventable dangers because the safeguards meant to protect them were both ignored and inadequate, according to a Chronicle survey of 45 Texas nursing homes, a review of more than 80 evacuation plans and interviews with officials in Louisiana's 63 parishes.

In fact, some of the most troubling scenes from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — the elderly sweltering on buses without air conditioning, festering in ill-equipped shelters in schools and churches, or taking refuge in coastal zones vulnerable to another storm — were intended arrangements laid out in approved evacuation plans.

Regulations in Texas, Louisiana and at the federal level require all nursing homes to establish emergency plans that include arrangements for shelter, transportation and supplies to care for the elderly and frail, though they have no additional requirements for homes in areas vulnerable to hurricanes.

In 2003 and 2004, Houston-based nursing home inspectors sent letters warning nursing home officials to be ready for a major hurricane and asking for a copy of their evacuation plans.

Only 44 out of 130 nursing homes in hurricane-prone Brazoria, Galveston and Harris counties supplied them in 2004, according to documents reviewed by the Chronicle. Most of those submitted had obvious problems, including at least two Harris County homes that planned to shelter at an out-of-business hospital."
Perhaps this will give pause to those who like to compare Louisiana's Democratic governor with her Republican neighbors, Perry and Barbour.

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