Nursing homes: Florida nightmare unlikely, but possible, in Pittsburgh
The deaths of eight nursing home residents in Florida as a result of power problems after Hurricane Irma has sparked conversations in the Pittsburgh region about the preparedness of facilities for the elderly here.
The consensus among nursing home officials is that the horrific situation in Florida is unlikely in Western Pennsylvania, thanks mainly to our milder weather, but it is not impossible.
If something similar did occur here, safety and emergency preparedness officers said they are ready with backup plans that would ensure their residents are safe.
“We’ve been down in the past for as long as a week [without regular power] and we had to use our generators,” said Kevin Santora, director of resident services for Baptist Homes, a nursing home in Mt. Lebanon with 180 skilled nursing and personal care beds. “But if we had to evacuate, we have agreements with St. Clair and other hospitals in the area to help us.
knocked out a hospital’s generator in its basement, leading to the deaths of patients there.
“That changed the way a lot of nursing homes and hospitals located” generators, he said.
The situation this week in Hollywood, Fla., where eight patients died after a nursing home had a power problem in the wake of Hurricane Irma that knocked out much of its air-conditioning, led to conversations among nursing home officials here.
“It kind of happens naturally,” Mr. Santora said. “Right when I walk in the door here, it’s: ‘Hey, did you hear what happened?’”
By coincidence, Baptist Homes had its monthly safety meeting for officials from both its Mt. Lebanon facility and Providence Point in Scott scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The Florida tragedy came up, and they ended up going over how they would handle a loss of air conditioning or a flood that knocked out power.
“We’re about 1,147 feet above sea level here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t flood,” said Mr. Santora, who has worked for Baptist Homes for 17 years. “Here [in Mt. Lebanon a flood] would come up through the sewers and we could lose the ground flood. But there are no residents there. And if it flooded the second floor? Well, there’d better be an ark parked outside.”