Colorado Nursing Homes Have to Plan for Electrical Shutoffs

An article compiled by the national newsroom KFF Health News and passed along by The Colorado Sun news outlet reports that Colorado nursing homes need to have better emergency plans in place in the event of electrical shutoffs. There have been documented cases where such shutoffs have occurred, such as when utilities temporarily impose them due to the risk of wildfires being particularly acute from downed or damaged power lines. In one case, a Boulder nursing home with approximately 500 residents had only 75 minutes advance notice of a shutoff, forcing staff to scramble to protect vital services. The vice president of operations at that facility also said not knowing when power would be restored, even 24 hours into the crisis, was stressful and expensive. The KFF article said as preemptive power cuts become more widespread, nursing homes are being forced to evaluate their preparedness. A study published by JAMA Network Open found that more than half of nursing homes in the West are within about three miles of an area with elevated wildfire risk. KFF noted that nursing homes with the greatest risk of fire danger in the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest have had comparatively poor compliance with federal emergency preparedness standards. They are rushing to catch up. A federal audit of 20 Colorado nursing homes identified more than 200 deficiencies related to various aspects of emergency preparedness in those homes. Nursing home officials expressed a need for better communication between utilities and nursing homes to keep residents safe. An Xcel Energy spokesman said his utility will work with community partners and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to help health facilities prepare for extended power outages.

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