Emergency preparedness is a constant concern, but new legislation might help.
With summer comes hurricanes, tornadoes, and sometimes floods. Winter can bring blizzards and below zero temperatures. All year long, concerns about pandemics, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters loom large. Preparing for these is a source of anxiety for everyone, including post-acute and long-term care communities (PALTC). However, a new law is good news for our industry. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (S 1379), signed into law on June 7, elevates skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to the same level as acute-care facilities for power restoration and includes nursing facilities in pre-disaster emergency planning. Overall, the bill is designed to strengthen and improve national preparedness and response, with a particular focus on the needs of special populations such as seniors and people with disabilities.
Among the highlights:
· Revisions to Section 202 add long-term care facilities to hospitals to be included in coordinating emergency plans. The bill’s language puts PALTC facilities at the table with the power companies for emergency preparedness and response planning. Utility companies now must be consulted to determine how to help ensure maintenance of critical infrastructure as soon as possible—in nursing homes and other facilities—after a public emergency.
· Section 404 addresses the dangers associated with pandemic influenza and antimicrobial resistance via enhanced strategic initiatives to research, develop, and acquire countermeasures to biological threats.
· Section 505 reauthorizes a Presidential council to provide recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding antibiotic-resistant bacteria and its threat to public health and safety.
According to bill co-sponsor Susan Brooks (R-IN), the legislation will help ensure that healthcare professionals are trained “to respond to possible pandemic outbreaks, prioritize the further development of our national stockpile of vaccines, medical equipment and diagnostics, and establish new advisory groups to focus on protecting vulnerable populations such as senior citizens and people with disabilities during public health threats and emergencies.”