Sunday, November 4, 2012
Some nursing homes still haven't evacuated
From the Huffington Post:
The previous few nights in New York have been quite cold, and temperatures are expected to plunge into the 30s over the weekend.
"I slept under a pile of blankets and coats last night," said Ray Velez, who lives on Beach 115th Street across from the burned-out section of stores and homes. At the height of the storm, as water flooded the peninsula, Velez was rescued from his home by firefighters in a boat as high winds whipped the flames around. Like other residents, he said he was grateful for the efforts of first responders, but surprised that priority hadn't been given to food and clothing aid.
One block from Velez and the burned businesses, 182 residents and dozens of staffers of Park Nursing Home were getting through another day.
The lobby of the building is a sodden, sandy mess, flooded by several feet of ocean water. So are a few dozen rooms and offices on the ground level.
Patrick Russell, the manager, said that the Office of Emergency Management did not try to move residents out of the nursing home before the storm. As The Huffington Post previously reported, the office did not evacuate any of the multiple nursing homes in the Rockaways ahead of the storm, even though the entire peninsula was in a mandatory evacuation zone.
But the facility in many ways is fortunate: The kitchen, though also on the ground floor, is on the uphill side of the building, and was spared from the flooding. So was the generator. There is plenty of food and heat, though hallways are dark and elevators aren't running. After the storm, his staff delivered 200 cream cheese and jelly sandwiches to the residents of another nursing home across the street, which had lost all power and were evacuated later that day.
Why is the Huffington Post the only news outlet reporting this major lapse in judgment by OEM? How many nursing homes still have residents inside them with feet of water in the lobbies and no elevators, preventing emergency access and food delivery?
And check this comment out:
"I have been working in nursing homes for over 25 years and I have never experienced anything as horrific as this. Our staff started preparing for evacuation days before the storm. We worked endless hours to prepare for what we thought would be an order to evacuate. Many hours go into planning the evacuation of a nursing home. Nurses and nurses aids are assigned to groups of residents so they will have familiar faces with them during this dificult time. Transportation was set up with ambulance, ambulette and bus companies to transport the residents. Every family was called to inform them where there loved one would be during the storm. Trucks were rented to transport beds, medications, food, wheelchairs, walkers, water, linens, diapers, wound care supplies, medical charts and more. It is an immense amount of work, but work that we understand is necessary to keep our residents safe. We waited for Mayor Bloomberg to issue the order to evacuate and were in disbelief when he announced the mandatory evacuation of zone A except for all nursing homes and hospitals. If a facility is perfectly organized and ready for evacuation, it still takes a minimum of 12 hours to evacuate. There are only so many ambulances and ambulettes to go around. How do you explain leaving the city's most vulnerable residents directly in a path of oncoming destruction. This storm was not a surprise, every channel was reporting for days how powerful and dangerous this storm was going to be. It was not a possibility, it was a certainty. We kept hoping that with every press conference and every NYS Department of Health notification, they would give the order allowing us to evacuate. But it never came."