Despite rules, nursing homes still lack sprinklers

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Sprinkler

I hate to hear stories like this and that is one reason why I blog on it.  I think that by keeping it in the news, it creates more pressure for the parent companies of these nursing homes to use the money they have to put in the sprinklers….

Tens of thousands of the country’s most vulnerable people are living in nursing homes without adequate sprinklers or that are missing them altogether, according to government data.   Despite a history of deadly nursing home fires and a five-year lead up to an August 2013 deadline to install sprinklers, 385 homes in 39 states have failed to meet the requirements set by CMS, the federal agency who is responsible for overseeing and regulating nursing homes.  These 385 facilities are licensed to hold more than 52,000 people. 44 of those homes have no sprinklers at all.

CMS, which had warned last year it would not grant extensions to the sprinkler rules, said 97 percent of facilities meet requirements, which are basic fire-safety tools in many structures, but especially important in nursing homes where residents may be unable to quickly evacuate.

There have been numerous deadly nursing homes fires over the past century, but it wasn’t until 2003 that CMS has required sprinklers in newly constructed facilities. Five years later, in 2008, CMS issued a requirement stating older facilities needed to be retrofitted with sprinklers, giving those homes another five years to comply.

Since this past December, there has been some progress when CMS said 714 homes were not in compliance. An analysis of ownership data shows there are currently 204 for-profit facilities failing to meet sprinkler rules; 145 nonprofits; and 36 run by local and state governments.  Sprinkler costs in nursing homes vary widely. After the 2003 Greenwood fire, officials in Connecticut estimated the average cost of upgrading facilities that were partially equipped with sprinklers at $270,000. The average for nursing homes with no system in place was $363,000.

In older buildings it can be a more complicated job, which could include cutting through walls, dealing with asbestos-encased pipes and managing original layouts not designed for such modifications.

Some facilities on the list of noncompliant homes say they have met the requirements and weren’t sure why they were cited. CMS said the list was accurate as of July, but some facilities may not have been surveyed since meeting compliance. Surveys generally happen annually, so facilities that have added sprinklers could still be on the list if the modifications weren’t completed before their last inspection.

For those who remain out of compliance, CMS said it could take a variety of enforcement actions, including denying payment and terminating a facility’s provider agreement. A small number of the noncompliant facilities may be granted extensions for extenuating circumstances, such as if they are building a replacement to their current structure or undergoing major renovations.

 

Here is the link for the CMS list http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Downloads/Survey-and-Cert-Letter-13-55.pdf

Some of the deadliest fires at  Nursing Homes: 

  •  Nov. 27, 2006: Eleven people died in a fire at the Anderson Guest House in Anderson, Missouri, a care home for the elderly and mentally ill. The home had smoke alarms but no sprinklers.
  • Sept. 25, 2003: A fire killed 16 people at the NHC Healthcare Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The facility met all codes but had no automatic sprinkler system.
  •  Feb. 26, 2003: A mentally disabled woman set fire to the Greenwood Health Center in Hartford, Connecticut, killing 16 people. The nursing home had no automatic sprinkler system.
  •  April 2, 1979: An overnight blaze at a residential care center in Farmington, Missouri, with only one staff member on duty killed 25 of the 37 residents.
  •  Jan. 30, 1976: A fire at the Wincrest Nursing Home in Chicago killed 23 of the 83 patients.
  •  Jan. 9, 1970: A fire at a convalescent home in Marietta, Ohio, with no sprinklers or smoke alarms killed 31 of the 46 patients.
  •  Nov. 23, 1963: Overshadowed in the news by the assassination of President Kennedy, a fire at the Golden Age Nursing Home in Fitchville, Ohio, killed 63 of the 84 residents. Investigators  later blamed faulty wiring and found the nursing home didn’t have an evacuation plan.
  •  Feb. 17, 1957: A fire at the Katie Jane Memorial Home in Warrenton, Missouri, killed 72 people.
  • March 29, 1953: A fire at the Littlefield Nursing Home in Largo, Florida, killed 33, including 32 of the 57 patients and a nurse who ran back inside to try to rescue others.
  •  Oct. 31, 1952: Twenty people died in a fire at the Cedar Grove nursing home in Hillsboro, Missouri.

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