Walden hints at nursing home oversight in wake of Irma deaths

Walden hints at nursing home oversight in wake of Irma deaths
© Greg Nash

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said his committee may begin looking at oversight of nursing facilities following the deaths of eight people in a Florida nursing home.

The deaths occurred after the South Florida facility apparently lost its air conditioning amid widespread power outages in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The storm knocked out power for millions of people across the state.

“Some of these nursing home situations are very troubling ... because that’s the most vulnerable population,” Walden told reporters Thursday. “So I think we’ll want to get answers to that.”

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Federal regulations require nursing homes to have detailed plans and procedures for both natural and man-made disasters.

Walden said his committee may also look at other public health issues in the aftermath of both Irma in Florida and Hurricane Harvey in Texas, including the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika.

Walden said he’s been in contact with the National Institutes of Health regarding planning for when mosquitos return. Flooding may wash away some of the breeding pools, Walden said, but once the waters recede, mosquitoes will recover.

The storms also made it harder for people to treat pre-existing health conditions, and Walden said he’d be looking at any impediments to people getting the treatments they need.