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Coastal Nursing Homes Not Yet Ready For Katrina-Level Hurricane
May 8, 2006

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA--Just a few weeks ahead of the official start of the hurricane season, The State newspaper has published its look at what could happen if South Carolina is struck by a storm of the force of last year's Hurricane Katrina.

The expanded report, published Sunday, focused on how well nursing facilities are prepared for such a catastrophe, noting that a large number of seniors and people with disabilities perished in New Orleans nursing homes before and after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in late August.

The State examined emergency evacuation plans for 31 nursing homes along South Carolina coastal areas and found that while they have contracts with transportation providers, those providers would likely be too overloaded to be effective. One company, for example, has agreements to evacuate residents from six facilities, but could only help on a "first-come, first-come" basis.

The newspaper also found that, while facility operators are meeting with state officials next month, a coordinated emergency preparedness plan to evacuate the estimated 3,124 nursing home residents from the area is not expected until June or July.

"If something like a Katrina came up the whole seaboard, I think we'd have a problem," Randy Lee, president of the South Carolina Health Care Association, told The State.

Some nursing home operators argue that it is usually safest to keep residents in the facilities except in the most extreme situations.

Related articles from The State:
"The Big One: Is S.C. ready?"
"Nursing homes’ escape plans, supplies inadequate"
"Worst-case scenario outlined for S.C."


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