Some nursing home residents still displaced after Hurricane Ian

Most of the thousands of Florida residents forced to evacuate nursing homes as Hurricane Ian tore through the state have returned, but others are still displaced.

Of the four dozen facilities evacuated before or during the storm, nine remain closed due to flooding and other storm damage, according to Kristen Knapp, senior director of strategy and communications at the Florida Health Care Association. , which represents most nursing homes in the state. .

The nine facilities are scattered across hard-hit areas of the state, including Southwest Florida, the Orlando area and Daytona Beach.

Residents are staying at nearby skilled nursing facilities, some of which Knapp said are owned by the same companies that run the places they left.

“The idea is to make sure they’re in a place that’s comfortable and familiar to them, because you know for residents of nursing homes, a lot of them have complex medical needs, they have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia,” Knapp said. “So there’s always a concern about transference trauma when you’re talking about evacuations.”

Knapp said staff monitor residents for signs of trauma throughout the transition and work to keep them in touch with their families.

State health and emergency management officials must inspect each nursing home before it can reopen.

RELATED: Florida nursing homes evacuated thousands of people before Ian struck. Some have weathered the storm

Other facilities chose to retreat for the storm, equipped with backup generators and several days’ worth of fuel. All nursing homes were required to do so under a state law implemented in response to the deaths of a dozen residents at a facility in Hollywood — in Broward County — ago five years after Hurricane Irma knocked out the electricity to the building, causing it to overheat.

Knapp said 78 nursing homes lost power during Ian and the majority of those facilities have since restored it.

These figures do not take into account the dozens of assisted living facilities also affected by the storm. Health News Florida has contacted the Agency for Health Care Administration but has not yet received a response.

Knapp said the Florida Health Care Association is focused on supporting facilities through recovery and raising funds for health care workers in hard-hit areas.

“Our staff have been wonderful,” Knapp said. “Many of them sheltered in place with their residents, evacuated with their residents, as their homes were impacted.”

Those interested in contributing to FHCA’s Hurricane Ian Relief Fund can submit donations through this website. WUSF has also created a list of other ways Tampa Bay area residents can support those affected by Hurricane Ian.

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