Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

About the
Ohio Health Care Association

The Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA) is proud to represent more than 900 skilled nursing care facilities, assisted living communities and providers serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). The Association was established in 1946 to meet the needs of the state's growing number of long-term care professionals, which today totals more than 100,000 exceptional men and women who care for Ohio's most frail and vulnerable citizens. OHCA is a non-profit association with 2 affiliate organizations x the Ohio Centers for Assisted Living (OCAL), and the Ohio Centers for Intellectual Disabilities (OCID). Many OHCA members also provide a variety of home and community-based services. OHCA is the largest long-term care association in the state, and the only chartered Ohio affiliate of the American Health Care Association, representing more than 12,000 long-term care facilities nationwide.


Ohio s System for Emergency Preparedness in Long Term Care Facilities
Anna Subler, Public Information Specialist, Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health s Office of Health Preparedness has been focused on ensuring care for those in nursing facilities during emergency situations. These efforts are assessed through a Long-Term Care Survey administered by the Scripps Gerontology Center. The purpose of this biennial survey is to guarantee that Ohio s facilities have emergency preparedness plans in place that are met by evaluation and planning to support future preparedness, response and recovery.

Ohio is at-risk for natural disasters and accidents such as tornados, wind storms, floods, and railroad accidents. Nursing home residents and employees are vulnerable during these emergencies which can require either evacuation or sheltering in place.

"Our primary concern is the quality of resident lives," said Beverley Laubert, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.  "That means not only that homes need to make accommodations for residents, but also that homes need to be helpful to staff affected by emergencies so they can continue to work and care for residents."

The 2013 Long-Term Care Survey assessed the level of preparedness in cases of natural disasters, evacuations, mechanical related failures, and staffing during emergencies. Over 90 percent of Ohio s nursing homes responded to the survey and the results indicated that most facilities appeared to be prepared for such emergencies. It was reported that 100 percent of respondents have an emergency plan in place and more than one-half of the plans were developed in coordination with local partners such as hospitals, emergency responders, and public health officials. However, further conversation between local, state, and federal officials is needed to decide the appropriate amount of perishable supplies necessary should a disaster hit.

"All of us face the possibility of natural disasters, accidents, power outages or intentional acts to disrupt our daily lives," said Tamara McBride, Chief of Health Preparedness.  "We are glad to see that Ohio s nursing facilities have a plan in place with their local and state partners in case a natural or man-made disaster hits, we want to build and expand on the foundation they already have."

More communication and practice is needed as we continue to ensure that all Ohio long term care facilities are prepared in the case of an emergency. The Ohio Department of Health is committed to continuing these efforts to provide the best care for those residents.

Long Term Care Disaster Management
Kenn Daily, LNHA, OHCA Life Safety & Disaster Planning Committee Chair

Disasters come in many shapes and sizes. They can be man-made events such as fires, chemical spills and railroad accidents, or natural events like severe weather events like hurricanes, snow storms, and tornadoes. Many of these events happen with little or no warning.

Over the past decade, significant attention has been focused on long term care facilities disaster preparedness in the wake of events such as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the devastating facility fires in Tennessee and Connecticut. In response, OHCA commenced the Life Safety and Disaster Planning Committee in 2006. This innovative multi-disciplinary committee is charged with reviewing, developing and recommending processes, policies and procedures; coordinating education; and providing OHCA members the resources to enable appropriate, coordinated and effective responses to disasters and safety issues.

Disasters are any emergency where the event s severity, scope, nature or span overcome the organization s ability to manage and/or respond with the resources they have. Therefore, coordination of actions and the response require intense coordination and efficient management. There is an understanding that disaster management is critical to reduce or avoid the losses related to disasters.

All long term care facilities must be prepared before disaster strikes in order to prevent injury, and to save lives, property, money and resources. The generally accepted disaster management cycle  Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery  clearly illustrate that pre-planning is crucial to an effective response to ensure reducing losses, protecting lives and a quicker recovery.

The Disaster Cycle

  1. Disaster mitigation refers to actions or measures that can either prevent the occurrence of a disaster or reduce the severity of its effects. Mitigation activities include the way structures are built and maintained, policies, procedures and training/education on disaster prevention strategies.

  2. The Prevention phase refers to hazard-risk identification and analysis and the steps needed to develop and implement programs to prevent disasters from occurring.

  3. Response is the actions taken to implement a facility s plans and is commonly based on the  Incident Command System, which reduces injuries, chaos and promotes collaboration and interoperability with first responders.

  4. The Recovery phase includes the actions that are taken to repair and rebuild, and the arrangements taken to get back to  normal operations and restore health and economic vitality to the facility.

Every day we hear about disasters and how we must prepare. long term care centers across Ohio and the nation are faced with the daunting responsibility to prepare for the worst for their residents and staff. OHCA strives to assist members in establishing disaster plans which allow them to be more disaster resistant and sustainable by providing a myriad of tools, resources and a quick response system that helps providers respond and ensure the safety and well-being of residents across the state.

Disaster Risk Management
Kimberly S. Robson, ARM, Sr. Vice President, Risk Management Solutions

On the heels of several large scale disasters across the nation, Ohio has experienced its own events over the past few years. Recall some of these: the Northeast Blackout in 2003; High Wind Storms of 2012 and 2013; Toledo Water Crisis in 2014; Fires; and numerous Polar Vortices all required long term care operators to implement Disaster Plans to respond to various center needs.

If we take a look at some of these past events, consider that these centers were prepared for some of these needs which included:

  • Emergency generator supply of power to designated areas, and at times additional resources obtained

  • Use of stored water and alternative menus

  • Alterative team member and resident communication systems

  • Relocation of residents to other areas within the center

  • If it is deemed no longer safe to continue center operations  relocation of residents to other centers

  • Repair of damaged areas as rapidly as possible

Once an event has concluded and operations return to a normal status, event responses are reviewed to determine any modifications to existing policies and procedures.

By evaluating risk, developing policies and business relationships, educating team members and residents, and practicing established protocols, OHCA members are prepared to navigate various types of disasters ultimately keeping residents, team members, and visitors safe..

What you May Not Know About Long Term Care Safety in Ohio

In Ohio there are nearly 1,000 skilled nursing facilities, 650 assisted living residences and 440 Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities participating in the state s disaster preparedness program.

Ohio s long term care facilities are among the safest residential structures. Ohio s providers meet strict requirements for fire safety, building structure and environmental considerations, and are regulated and regularly inspected by federal, state and local agencies, including the Ohio Departments of Health and Aging, the State Fire Marshal s Office and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), among others.

Long-term care facilities must have plans in place to ensure resident safety in the case of various disasters including fire, flood, contagion and other environmental emergencies. Planning includes required staff training and practice on emergency procedures.

Facilities are required to conduct fire and evacuation drills with the cooperation and assistance of local agencies.

Since 1975 all licensed Ohio nursing facilities have been required to have full sprinkler and fire safety systems. There have been no mutli-death fires in more than 30 years.

Generators are required for skilled nursing facilities providing life support services such as ventilator care.


With Support from OHCA Champion Partners