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Nursing homes prepare to ride out Hurricane Florence

Fayetteville Observer - 9/13/2018

Sept. 13--As Hurricane Florence continued to churn toward the North Carolina coast on Thursday, several nursing homes in the area said they were prepared to ride out the storm.

Kirk Rogers, who has been an administrator for 29 years, including the past year and a half at Village Green, said the SanStone Health and Rehab Center on Purdue Drive in Fayetteville is ready to handle the storm.

"We feel very confident about what we have in place," Rogers said. "We have gone through an extensive contingency list. We have a backup water plan, fuel, generator resources and water pumping systems for (possible) flooding."

Between hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes, Rogers said he has been through roughly a dozen natural disasters.

"I literally watched a tornado come within a quarter-mile of my building, pass over the top of the building, and touch back down a quarter-mile away from it," Rogers said. "I look at that as an answered prayer."

Rogers has learned that early planning and teamwork are vital in advance of an emergency situation.

"You've got to have a plan, knowledge of the plan, and the most important thing is that your staffing team is all on board and supportive of the process and knowledge about what needs to be accomplished," he said.

"That makes a big difference as to how things go in an emergency situation. We have a well-prepared team that is dedicated to sticking things out through the storm."

Rogers said the facility is prepared with additional water, food and medical supplies. Staffing schedules also have been adjusted so the center can meet the needs of the people.

Of the 165 employees, Rogers said roughly 50 to 75 could be working in the facility at any given time and many plan to stick it out during the storm for the next few days.

The staff at Woodlands Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Pelt Drive is preparing in much the same way.

"Right now, we're planning to shelter in place where we are," said Shakita Sutton, the admissions and marketing director at the facility.

"We have ordered several cases of water, food and medical supplies. We have plenty of supplies and staff in place spending the night to help out. We're ready."

Like Rogers, Whitney Bell is no stranger to preparing for emergency situations. Bell has worked at the North Carolina State Veterans Home on Cochran Avenue for 18 years, spending the last seven as its administrator.

"We've implemented our emergency contingency plan and we're planning to shelter in place, which is what we've historically done," Bell said. "We'll be self-sustaining."

Bell pointed to Hurricane Matthew in 2016 as a reference point on how to handle Florence's arrival.

"We did not have any issues here or damage (during Matthew)," Bell said. "It was more about staff getting back and forth and being a support for each other, making sure we take care of our veterans. We have to be on task and focus when we are here."

Bell said the center has plenty of supplies and 80 to 95 staff members will be working the next few days to provide extra care.

"We've altered our staffing patterns, housing staff (Thursday) through (Friday) and however long we need them here around the clock," she said.

"It will be more than usual."

Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at rbaxley@fayobserver.com or 910-418-3519.


(c)2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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