Nursing Homes in Public Health Emergencies: Special Needs and Potential Roles

Source: Elisabeth D. Root, Jacqueline B. Amoozegar, Shulamit Bernard, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AHRQ Publication No. 07-0029-1, May 2007

From the overview:
To date, most health care preparedness planning efforts have been focused on hospital and first responder preparedness. Nevertheless, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies due to their complex physical, medical, and psychological needs. The potential role and question of preparedness on the part of nursing homes has emerged in local and national preparedness discussions. However, little is known about the extent to which nursing homes have planned for and/or been incorporated into regional planning efforts
To address this issue, a series of focus groups was conducted to collect information about disaster- and bioterrorism-related planning activities among nursing homes in five States—North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Utah—and southern California. The aims of the focus groups were to:
• Determine if nursing home administrators have prepared and trained staff on disaster plans, including bioterrorism response.
• Assess the special needs of the elderly population in nursing home settings during a public health emergency.
• Determine if nursing homes are able to accommodate patient flows from acute care hospitals or provide other resources.
• Assess the impact of State regulations on the ability of nursing homes to offer support and/or surge capacity.
Findings from this report can provide important insight into current nursing home preparedness activities as well as the potential role of nursing homes in larger local or regional preparedness efforts and the special needs of the nursing home population.

See also: Emergency Preparedness Atlas — U.S. Nursing Home and Hospital Facilities
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) sponsored preparation of this atlas to support local/regional planning and response efforts in the event of a bioterrorism or other public health emergency. In the atlas, case studies in six areas illustrate the location of nursing homes relative to population and various emergency preparedness regions. There are also maps of the location of hospitals and nursing homes in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.
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