Virginia Health Department, Hospitals, Nursing Homes Implement Comprehensive Long-Term Care Facility Disaster Response Plan

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Virginia Health Department, Hospitals, Nursing Homes Implement Comprehensive Long-Term Care Facility Disaster Response Plan

Three Years in the Making, the Virginia Long-Term Mutual Aid Plan Establishes a Process for Long-Term Care Facilities to Assist Each Other During Disasters

RICHMOND, VA – Following several years of planning and development, the Commonwealth of Virginia and partnering health care providers have implemented a comprehensive process for nursing homes throughout the state to assist each other during disasters and emergency events, such as those that require evacuations. The Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan (LTC-MAP) is a voluntary agreement among participating nursing homes to share supplies, resources, and even house residents from other facilities when a serious need arises. The LTC-MAP also sets up a framework for long-term care facilities to coordinate with government agencies and regional health care coalitions involved in emergency response work.

Work on the Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan (LTC-MAP) began in 2015 and involved collaboration between the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA), the Virginia Health Care Association-Virginia Center for Assisted Living (VHCA-VCAL), and LeadingAge Virginia. The process involved site visits to all 284 nursing homes in the Commonwealth and the development of a detailed plan with specific procedures for disaster response coordination pertaining to long-term care facilities. Considering the impact that serious natural events such as hurricanes, tropical storms, tornados, and wild fires have had on Virginia communities, the need for a coordinated approach to regional disaster planning is evident. Earlier this year, the three-year LTC-MAP planning and development process was finalized when the participating partner organizations signed an agreement formalizing the pact. To date, 148 facilities have signed onto the agreement known as a memorandum of understanding.

“This important work is critical in ensuring that long-term care facilities in Virginia have the support and resources needed to respond to disaster conditions that may befall them and the more than 33,000 residents they serve,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Putting this new agreement in place means there is a plan for continuity of care for nursing home residents even if a disaster necessitates evacuations to another location. As a coordinator of the Virginia Healthcare Emergency Management Program, VHHA is pleased to be a partner in this important planning and response effort.”

“Because of the plan, nursing home providers across the Commonwealth are prepared to work together during any type of disaster or emergency situation,” added Keith Hare, President and CEO of VHCA-VCAL. “As one of the first states to develop and implement a LTC-MAP, our members and partners are to be commended for their thoughtful leadership. These efforts ensure a greater level of safety for our patients and residents. The LTC-MAP also helps ensure that there is a coordinated effort to return to normal operations as soon as possible after an event.”

“The Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan allows long-term care facilities to assist one another during an emergency to accomplish their single most important job – protecting the health and the lives of their patients and residents,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “This important collaboration not only helps to protect the continuity of the health care infrastructure, it also ensures the safety of all people in Virginia.”

“Meeting the needs of Virginians as they age means anticipating many possibilities and eventualities,” added Melissa Andrews, President and CEO of LeadingAge Virginia. “Our goal is to support older adults so their retirement and later years are fulfilling and safe. Because we have that duty, it is important for our organization to be engaged in the LTC-MAP process so our residents and their families know we have a comprehensive plan in place in the event that external forces require a coordinated emergency response involving multiple agencies and organizations.”

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