Local retirement home prepared for power outages

Tapestry staff meet with residents to go overall protocol in the event of a storm.
Photo by Tracey Belizaire

With tropical storms on the move, one local nursing home has prepared for the unknown.

Hurricane season begins in early June and ends late November. During that time senior living facilities make arrangements to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

Tapestry Senior Lakeshore Living Executive Director Tom Zukowski said he emphasizes the importance of preparing for a hurricane before it makes landfall due to the number of lives at stake.

“We prepare weeks ahead of time,” said Zukowski. “You want to start early so that you’re ahead of the game.”

Most senior homes have three communities: memory care, assisted living and independent living. Residential home administration makes it a priority to have all things to supply each community including seven days worth of food and water for residents to consume, drink and wash with.

Preparations include plenty of departments to oversee, staff meetings happen regularly to assure materials and equipment are accounted for.

“When a hurricane hits, we work as a team because this is the residents’ home, it’s their last home,” said business manager Summer Rivenburg.

Following preparations, emails are sent out to inform families about the possible conditions and steps taken to ensure their loved one’s safety. Aware of all the possibilities that may occur, administration formulated a plan to prepare themselves for events amid a storm.

“We’ve put together an emergency management plan,” said Zukowski.

In that plan are details of all protocols, scenarios, procedures, and check-lists for departments such as dietary service, nursing, housekeeping, and maintenance. It also identifies every resident’s condition, abilities and medical records in case of an evacuation. In worst-case scenarios, residential homes have written agreements that authorize access to other facilities in the area.

After the 12 deaths that took place during Hurricane Irma at a senior home in South Florida, then-Governor Rick Scott appointed new obligations that ordered nursing homes to have a working generator with sufficient fuel to accommodate the elderly.

Environmental Service Director, David Andrews implemented the new obligation and has maintained everything in the facility to protect not only the residents but the staff as well.

“We have a new generator that can run 92 hours and about 2,000 gallons in back up fuel,” Andrews said.

Andrews has experienced hurricanes with Tapestry and emphasized the importance of accountability throughout the storm.

To prevent any fatalities and discomfort for residents “staff members are scheduled to go on hourly walks to inspect each resident and their condition during the storm,” said Andrews.