New Emergency Plan protects residents, hurts facilities

Health and Safety Code 1569.695 was revised to require RCFEs to update emergency disaster plans on January 1. The new law, heavily influenced by special interest groups, placed ambiguous requirements into law such as “updating the facility sketch to include assembly points. Where do 6-bedders assembly on site if the facility is on fire? DSS cannot create new regulations as the law states, “Nothing…shall create a new or additional requirement for the department to evaluate the emergency and disaster plan.” But will DSS require facilities to submit updated sketches for approval? The new law also states if a facility makes any interior changes for disaster preparedness it requires an updated sketch and even a new fire clearance.

Other provisions include identifying and having supplies required to shelter in place and one of the two currently required relocation sites must be “outside the immediate area.” How far away is unknown. Facilities must provide initial and annual employee staff training on disasters and conduct quarterly fire and earthquake drills to prepare for all emergencies. DSS cannot define those emergencies but may attempt to do so. Facilities will be required to update its resident rosters to include a date of birth. The new law requires a facility, if it evacuates, to take all resident “appraisal of resident needs and services plan.” The Legislature has never defined what those plans are, but the special interest groups refer to these as “care plans.”

As of January 1, licensing must confirm, during its annual visits, which are also supposed to happen on the 1st, that the emergency and disaster plan is on file at the facility and includes required content.