Senators Eye Disaster Preparedness Changes


A bipartisan group of senators is taking a closer look at emergency preparedness and care for seniors after disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Committee members and witnesses during a Special Committee on Aging hearing Sept. 20 made it clear that changes, including ensuring emergency equipment is available, are needed to protect elderly patients when disasters strike.

“As these recent disasters made clear, older Americans are more vulnerable before, during, and after these storms,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said during the hearing. There seems to be “a very troubling lack of preparedness in some health-care centers.”

Collins, along with fellow committee members Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), has also introduced legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a national advisory committee to improve care for seniors during a disaster. This follows the deaths of eight people in a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

“Not only has the tragedy in Hollywood left wounds across the state of Florida, but it has exposed other examples of potential mismanagement at assisted living facilities in the state,” Rubio said. “This bill is a necessary step in preventing similar tragedies in the future and ensuring Florida’s seniors are taken care of during natural disasters.”

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