Function and response of nursing facilities during community disaster

Am J Public Health. 2004 Aug;94(8):1436-41. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.8.1436.


Objectives: We sought to describe the role and function of nursing facilities after disaster.

Methods: We surveyed administrators at 144 widely dispersed nursing facilities after the Los Angeles Northridge earthquake.

Results: Of the 113 (78%) nursing facilities that responded (11 365 beds), 23 sustained severe damage, 5 closed (625 beds), and 72 lost vital services. Of 87 nursing facilities implementing disaster plans, 56 cited problems that plans did not adequately address, including absent staff, communication problems, and insufficient water and generator fuel. Fifty-nine (52%) reported disaster-related admissions from hospitals, nursing facilities, and community residences. Nursing facilities received limited postdisaster assistance. Five months after the earthquake, only half of inadequate nursing facility disaster plans had been revised.

Conclusions: Despite considerable disaster-related stresses, nursing facilities met important community needs. To optimize disaster response, community-wide disaster plans should incorporate nursing facilities.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration*
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data
  • Forecasting
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Program Evaluation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transportation of Patients / organization & administration