HHSC Urges Long-Term Care Facilities to Update Emergency Preparedness Plans Before Hurricane Season

News Release
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Cecile Erwin Young
HHS Executive Commissioner
May 27, 2022
Jennifer Ruffcorn, 512-424-6951

AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is encouraging all long-term care facilities to make sure their emergency preparedness plans are updated ahead of the start of an active hurricane season forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Providers across the state are urged to review these emergency preparedness and response plans before hurricane season begins June 1.

“We are reminding providers how urgent it is to ensure that their plans are updated and that staff at every level are trained on how to fully execute them,” said Stephen Pahl, deputy executive commissioner for HHSC’s Regulatory Services Division. “We all know how unpredictable and dangerous the Texas hurricane season can be, so it is critical that facilities do everything they can in advance to protect residents’ health and safety.”

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. HHSC issues guidance to providers about updating their plans and encourages facilities to visit the DSHS Texas Ready website for helpful hurricane preparedness resources, including sample plans, disaster supply checklists, and more information on preparing for hurricanes and other emergencies.

In addition to long-term care facilities, HHSC 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.

Emergency preparedness plans should continue to address COVID-19 contingencies, including securing supplies of personal protective equipment and maintaining infection control measures during evacuations or sheltering-in-place.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which affects the Gulf Coast of Texas, runs from June 1 until November 30.

About Texas HHS Disaster Services
In the event of an emergency, Texas HHS is ready to help by providing regulatory support for health care facilities, long-term care facilities, and child-care operations; public health and medical support; shelters for people with medical needs; disaster food assistance; counseling services assistance; water and ice; and special waivers for Medicaid providers and clients as needed. For more information, visit the Texas HHSC Disaster Services website.