AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services is urging long-term care providers to prepare for natural disasters ahead of an active hurricane season forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Providers across the state should review their emergency preparedness and response plans and update them as needed.
“With hurricane season starting June 1, now is the time for long-term care facilities to make sure their hurricane preparedness plans are up-to-date and ready to go,” said David Kostroun, HHS deputy executive commissioner of Regulatory Services. “Our priority is making sure the people in facilities we regulate are safe and staff know what to do when there are shelter-in-place orders, evacuations and emergencies during severe weather.”
Long-term care providers include nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, hospices, intermediate care facilities and Home and Community-based Services group homes. These facilities are required to regularly prepare for natural disasters, including hurricanes and flooding.
A complete emergency preparedness and response plan includes up-to-date information about evacuation destinations, transportation plans, responsibilities of staff members, continuation of care and treatments for residents, and communication procedures. Texas HHS issues guidance to providers about updating their plans and also encourages facilities to visit the DSHS Texas Ready website for helpful hurricane preparedness resources.
In addition to long-term care facilities, Texas HHS also requires hospitals, dialysis centers, and state-regulated child care operations to maintain an updated emergency plan and ensure staff are fully trained on how to execute it.
Like last year, this year’s emergency preparedness plans should continue to address COVID-19 contingencies, including securing supplies of personal protective equipment and maintaining infection control measures during evacuations.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which affects the Gulf Coast of Texas, begins June 1 and ends on November 30. This year the National Hurricane Center decided for the first time to begin its tropical weather outlooks on May 15.
About Texas HHS Disaster Services
In the event of an emergency, Texas HHS is ready to help by providing public health and medical support; shelters for people with medical needs; disaster food assistance; counseling services; water and ice; regulatory support for health care facilities, long-term care facilities, and child care operations; and special waivers for Medicaid providers and clients as needed. More information about disaster assistance can be found here.