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A bill to give LDH more oversight of nursing homes’ emergency plans advances in the legislature

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:18 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - At the state capitol, some legislators want the Louisiana Department of Health to have more power as it relates to nursing homes’ readiness for hurricanes.

Kim Humbles is general counsel for the Louisiana Department of Health.

“After Ida, the department realized the outcry from this legislative body, from the public that there was no authority for the department to approve plans, emergency preparedness plans for nursing homes. We reviewed them, had a checklist but we did not approve them,” said Humbles.

House 933 by Rep. Joe Stagni, R-Kenner, would change that by requiring LDH to approve nursing homes’ emergency plans.

“It has a redundancy of eyes on inspection in primary and secondary sites, those that may be unlicensed shelters by the department, by the local emergency preparedness office, and by the Office of the State Fire Marshal,” said Stagni.

Humbles said the proposal covers a lot of ground.

“This is a comprehensive bill where we will absolutely approve it, approve every nursing home plan through a multi-agency review and approval process, so LDH is not the only agency. We will be the lead agency but we will coordinate with the local offices of emergency preparedness, with DOTD, with LEARN, with GOHSEP,” she said.

It is one of the bills filed after more than 800 nursing home residents were evacuated to a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish for Hurricane Ida and residents complained of inhuman conditions and were rescued by the state.

The state also revoked the licenses of the seven nursing homes that evacuated to the warehouse.

“I don’t want anything like this to ever happen again,” said Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Shreveport.

FOX 8 spoke to John McLindon, an attorney for Bob Dean, who owns the nursing homes after the legislative committee advanced the bill to the full House.

McLindon said, “The legislation is a good idea. But had LDH reviewed the plan submitted by Mr. Dean they would have approved it because it was very good.”

And the legislation would give the Louisiana Department of Health the authority to inspect places nursing homes will use for evacuation sites.

“This bill also would allow us to go out and inspect the evacuation sites and we are going to require that every nursing home have a primary evacuation site as well as a secondary evacuation site. The department along with the Office of State Fire Marshal will do annual inspections of these evacuation sites,” said Humbles.

Nursing homes would also have to notify LDH about evacuations.

“The bill also builds in that when a nursing home does evacuate they notify the department within an hour of when they’re going to evacuate and the department will go on-site to that evacuation site, make sure that they have sufficient supplies, resources, staffing, at that time,” said Humbles.

No one from the industry opposed the bill during the committee hearing.

Rep. Dustin Miller is a Democrat from Opelousas.

“I think it speaks a lot that industry and everyone accepts this bill and there are no red cards,” said Miller.

Rep. Tim Kerner represents the community of Lafitte in the legislature.

“That’s somebody’s grandmother, grandfather, mom, dad and so it’s very important. We have a duty, take care of them and hopefully those things that happened in the past will never happen again,” said Kerner.

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