Kathryn Hyer, Director of the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida, testified Oct. 19 at a congressional field hearing on disaster preparedness.
Kathryn Hyer, PhD, director of the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging and professor in the School of Aging studies at the University of South Florida, testified Oct. 19 at a congressional field hearing on disaster preparedness.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson organized the hearing at Miami-Dade College’s North Campus to get expert opinion on how to protect frail and disabled older adults, who are especially vulnerable in natural disasters. Fourteen residents of the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills died when the power running the air conditioning system failed after Hurricane Irma struck Florida.
While generators to power health care facilities are important, Hyer and others who testified emphasized other priorities, according to a news report by the Miami Herald. They said having a disaster plan, training staff to respond, and conducting disaster drills also were critical.
Hyer told Wilson and others, including U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, that nursing homes need the ability to shelter their residents during hurricanes. Her observations were based on research she and others have conducted showing that those who are evacuated are more likely to die or need hospitalization after a disaster than those at facilities that shelter in place.
Wilson said at the hearing that she wants to create a grant or small loan program to help nursing homes buy power generators. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has ordered that by Nov. 15 nursing homes and assisted living communities have generators and fuel to maintain inside temperatures of 80 degree or lower for 96 hours. Industry representatives have challenged the order, saying the timeframe is too tight.