Officials Urge Owners of Nursing Homes to be Prepared for Natural Disasters

4 years 10 months 3 weeks ago Friday, April 27 2018 Apr 27, 2018 April 27, 2018 5:02 PM April 27, 2018 in News

WESLACO – County and city officials are warning owners of nursing homes to be prepared if a natural disaster strikes. 

The rules have changed for people who take care of others' loved ones such as dialysis companies and nursing homes.

"Now they must have certain training in place, documented with their agency. Also exercises, they must conduct a full-scale exercise so the state and regulatory agency can see that they are able to function,” says Weslaco Fire Chief Antonio Lopez.  

Lopez wants nursing homes to be ready if a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey strikes.

"So, we need to take that as a learning lesson and start talking about what things we saw when we deployed up north that we can bring back to the table here, to make us more resilient,” says Lopez.

Lopez explains one of the ways to help is to simply remind nursing homes of the rules.

Marcos Cavazos is an executive director for an independent-living, assisted-living and nursing home in Weslaco.

"You know you can never be fully prepared. There's always something you can do a little better,” says Cavazos.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a supplier or provider must have their own emergency preparedness regulations in place.

Cavazos agrees to the rules.

"As a provider of healthcare you need to be prepared. You shouldn't rely on the city or the county or really any agency to take care of your residence. They are certain requirements that you must be able to provide,” he says. 

He says it’s about the safety of others in their care.

"Because at the end of the day, we're the ones responsible for taking care of those folks, that's the commitment we made,” says Cavazos.

Lopez says this is a chance to strengthen emergency measures in the Rio Grande Valley – in case a natural disaster hits.

If the rules aren’t followed, they will be cited by a state or federal authorities.

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