Storms Reveal Gaps in Protecting Senior Living Facilities

By By Dan Hounsell
March 12, 2021

The cold winter weather that struck Texas earlier this year created immense problems for healthcare systems already struggling to provide care for COVID-19 patients. But the storms exposed longer-term problems as well.

Winter storm Uri brought power failure and burst water pipes to millions of homes and businesses throughout Texas. But as is often the case in emergencies, the impact was most profound on the state’s most vulnerable, including residents of senior living facilities, according to Kaiser Health News.

Of the state’s 1,200 nursing facilities, about 50 percent lost power or had burst pipes or water issues, and 23 had to be evacuated, said Patty Ducayet, long-term care ombudsman for Texas. Of 2,000 assisted living facilities, about 25 percent had storm-related issues and 47 were evacuated. Some facilities reported building temperatures in the 50s.

The federal government requires nursing homes to maintain safe ambient temperatures but does not stipulate how and does not require generators or other alternative energy sources to run heating and air conditioning systems.

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