LDH may soon be in charge of approving emergency plans for nursing homes

Under current law, the LDH can only review a nursing home’s evacuation plan. It does not have the power to override it or make changes.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A proposal at the Capitol to require the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) to approve all emergency evacuation plans by a nursing home instead of just being able to review them is gaining traction.

After Hurricane Ida, horrific images surfaced showing the devastating conditions some of our elderly had to live through. Conditions were so bad some of them actually died. Under current law, LDH can only review a nursing home’s evacuation plan. It does not have the power to override it or make changes.

“That’s all they could do is review it, so they couldn’t take the responsibility for it. In fact, CNN in one of their early articles said that the Louisiana Department of Health had approved the plans. And then they had to come and say no we didn’t do that,” said state Rep. Rick Edmonds.

Rep. Edmonds, a Republican from Baton Rouge, has a plan to make that change and apply it to all nursing homes, not just those in the path of a hurricane. But, he wants to make it clear, that he is not blaming all nursing homes.

“We were not on an attack on nursing homes. This was a particular vendor, an owner of a home in this case, that turned out to be a bad actor. But, it could happen again. And, the Department of Health just didn’t have the teeth to be able to do anything about it. From this point forward, they will,” Rep. Edmonds added.

After WAFB put out the story hitting Bob Deans’ nursing home hard for failure to take care of our elderly, lawmakers felt compelled to act.

“These are our grandparents, our great-grandparents, and no one could stand aside when something this catastrophic was happening to these people. We had to do something to love on our elderly,” Rep. Edmonds continued.

Edmonds said the Louisiana Nursing Home Association was on board with the bill. WAFB reached out but did not hear back to confirm. The Department of Health issued a statement in response saying, “LDH shares Representative Edmonds’ concerns, and acted immediately following the tragedy in Independence, including convening the Louisiana Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness Review Committee.”

The plan has received practically zero pushback as its advanced through the legislature. Edmonds says he does not believe that will change before it reaches the governor.

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