Each home health agency shall prepare and maintain a comprehensive emergency management plan that is consistent with the standards adopted by national or state accreditation organizations and consistent with the local special needs plan. The plan shall be updated annually and shall provide for continuing home health services during an emergency that interrupts patient care or services in the patient’s home. The plan shall include the means by which the home health agency will continue to provide staff to perform the same type and quantity of services to their patients who evacuate to special needs shelters that were being provided to those patients prior to evacuation. The plan shall describe how the home health agency establishes and maintains an effective response to emergencies and disasters, including: notifying staff when emergency response measures are initiated; providing for communication between staff members, county health departments, and local emergency management agencies, including a backup system; identifying resources necessary to continue essential care or services or referrals to other organizations subject to written agreement; and prioritizing and contacting patients who need continued care or services. (1) Each patient record for patients who are listed in the registry established pursuant to s. 252.355 shall include a description of how care or services will be continued in the event of an emergency or disaster. The home health agency shall discuss the emergency provisions with the patient and the patient’s caregivers, including where and how the patient is to evacuate, procedures for notifying the home health agency in the event that the patient evacuates to a location other than the shelter identified in the patient record, and a list of medications and equipment which must either accompany the patient or will be needed by the patient in the event of an evacuation.
(2) Each home health agency shall maintain a current prioritized list of patients who need continued services during an emergency. The list shall indicate how services shall be continued in the event of an emergency or disaster for each patient and if the patient is to be transported to a special needs shelter, and shall indicate if the patient is receiving skilled nursing services and the patient’s medication and equipment needs. The list shall be furnished to county health departments and to local emergency management agencies, upon request.
(3) Home health agencies shall not be required to continue to provide care to patients in emergency situations that are beyond their control and that make it impossible to provide services, such as when roads are impassable or when patients do not go to the location specified in their patient records. Home health agencies may establish links to local emergency operations centers to determine a mechanism by which to approach specific areas within a disaster area in order for the agency to reach its clients. Home health agencies shall demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of this subsection by documenting attempts of staff to follow procedures outlined in the home health agency’s comprehensive emergency management plan, and by the patient’s record, which support a finding that the provision of continuing care has been attempted for those patients who have been identified as needing care by the home health agency and registered under s. 252.355, in the event of an emergency or disaster under subsection (1). (4) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 400.464(2) or any other provision of law to the contrary, a home health agency may provide services in a special needs shelter located in any county.