Are You Really Ready ?

Stan Szpytek

Stan Szpytek

Good afternoon, ProviderNation. Devastating tornadoes ravaging the Midwest in November, active shooting incidents in nursing homes, a “mild” hurricane season in 2013,  Colorado. Need I say more? When it comes to crisis or disaster in long term care centers, I will borrow a line from Forrest Gump and say, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

As a life safety/disaster Planning Consultant working with long term care providers around the nation, one thing I know for sure is that surveyors are taking a much closer look at your disaster plans. The days of the surveyor or risk management consultant taking a “quick look” at your disaster plans and protocols are over.

If key elements of the plan are not adequately illustrated, a deficiency may be possible. To help me make this point, here is some information from a friend and colleague at the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF): Skilled nursing facilities in California are some of the best prepared long term care providers in the country, but even they are not immune to deficiencies related to disaster preparedness. “The Emergency Procedures tag in surveys is now 15th among the top 20 most cited deficiencies on surveys in California,” says Jocelyn Montgomery, RN, director of clinical affairs and head of the CAHF Disaster Preparedness Program, “and this is a trend we are likely to see happen around the country.”

The frequency of severe weather and armed assailant emergencies is increasing every year, and providers are so often among the victims in these types of events. Because of this, government agencies are taking a very close look at how comprehensively plans have been developed and whether or not the facility has trained staff on their specific emergency operation plans.

Providers who are looking for the latest information on comprehensive disaster planning concepts, including disaster menus, evacuation concepts, crisis communications, and financial resiliency may want to consider sending appropriate staff members to CAHF’s disaster preparedness conference specifically designed for long term care entitled, Really Ready 4 – Resiliency: Survive and Thrive.

This two-day intensive event is geared toward long term care providers and is the fourth conference in a service conducted by CAHF. The conference has been presented every two years and continues to attract attendees from around the country to hear national-level experts discuss information that every long term care provider needs to know.

“Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, terrorist event, or prolonged power outage, the “all-hazard” elements apply, and the goal of Really Ready 4 is to help long term care providers be ready for anything” said Montgomery.

Really Ready 4 will be held at the Westin San Diego Hotel on Jan. 28 and 29, 2014. Twelve Board of Registered Nursing and Nursing Home Administrators Program CEUs are available, and the registration is open to everyone regardless of CAHF membership. For more information, and to register, go to

In closing, we know that providers need to put a great deal of effort in developing emergency operations plans (EOPs), protocols, and programs that will meet compliance, but more importantly protect the vulnerable populations they are given the privilege of providing services.   Your plans need to be comprehensively developed, maintained, and exercised to ensure that they provide your facility with guidance that is more than simply, “Run Forrest, Run!”

Stan Szpytek is the president of Fire and Life Safety (FLS) and is the Life Safety/Disaster Planning Consultant for the Arizona Health Care Association and California Association of Health Facilities. He is a former deputy fire chief and fire marshal with more than 35 years of experience in life safety compliance and emergency preparedness. For more information, visit or e-mail Szpytek at

1 Comment

Filed under health care, Long term care

One response to “Are You Really Ready ?

  1. Reblogged this on longtermhealth and commented:
    Considering that long term care facilities residents are composed of ill, frail and senior members of the society, it is a must for them to have a very good disaster management program. Although natural disasters are mostly unforeseen, these facilities can still prepare in order for them to make sure the well being of residents. Here are some good tips on how to prepare for natural disasters:

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