Hurricane Katrina demonstrated difficulties involved in evacuating communities and raised questions about how hospitals and nursing homes plan for evacuations and how the federal government assists. Due to broad-based congressional interest, GAO assessed the evacuation of hospital patients and nursing home residents. Under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative, GAO examined (1) the challenges hospital and nursing home administrators faced, (2) the extent to which limitations exist in the design of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to assist with patient evacuations, and (3) the federal requirements for hospital and nursing home disaster and evacuation planning. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed federal officials, and interviewed hospital and nursing home administrators and state and local officials in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Hurricane Charley in Florida.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Homeland Security||To address limitations in how the federal government provides assistance with the evacuation of health care facilities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should clearly delineate how the federal government will assist state and local governments with the movement of patients and residents out of hospitals and nursing homes to a mobilization center where NDMS transportation begins.|
|Department of Homeland Security||To address limitations in how the federal government provides assistance with the evacuation of health care facilities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should, in consultation with the other NDMS federal partners--the Secretaries of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs--clearly delineate how to address the needs of nursing home residents during evacuations, including the arrangements necessary to relocate these residents.|