September 14th, 2017 | Other
For the team at Legend Senior Living, hurricane planning begins months in advance of every hurricane season. Plans and procedures are developed while collaborating with the community emergency management systems. Well in advance of Hurricane Irma hitting land, the emergency team was activated at Legend’s headquarters in Wichita, KS. Legend owns and operates eight senior living and memory care communities in Florida. And in the early stages, it appeared that all eight would experience the hurricane. The communities house over 640 residents and employ over 540 people across the state of Florida.
Keeping the residents safe and comfortable was the number one priority. But providing immediate information to family members regarding their loved one was a major focus. A 24-hour command center was immediately organized at the home office in Wichita. In addition, many steps were taken to ensure safety and minimize risk. First, an assessment of the physical plants in Florida occurred. Supplies like plywood and sandbags were stocked. The team quickly stocked up on food and water to last the staff and residents seven days. Also, generators were tested and prepared for use. Nursing staff ensured that sufficient medication was in stock for all residents.
Directors of each residence communicated with neighboring fire departments and hospitals to discuss possible emergency situations. Busses were obtained to assist if any evacuations had to occur. And staff from Wichita and other Legend communities from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas immediately headed to Florida with loads of plywood, tarps, air mattresses, bottled water and more.
The Wichita office had calls with each community every 4 hours to ensure that they had everything they needed and that they were not experiencing any damage. “The resourcefulness of our team is impressive. Their first priority was the residents. They wanted to keep everyone calm.” Tim Buchanan, president of Legend Senior Living, manned phones for several hours. “Everyone pitches in.”
“We had to ensure that enough staff was in place, while also knowing they were dealing with the concerns of their own families and houses,” stated Catherine Conner, SVP of Human Resources. The home office had lists of all residents and all staff that were in each community. And received hourly updates on each.
When electricity went out at the San Pablo location in Jacksonville, FL, the phone system automatically rolled to Wichita. Constant communication with the staff, residents and families was the priority. Brian Best, Residence Director at San Pablo, said that generators were working and residents were comfortable. “Our chef was preparing meals as normal, residents were in good spirits. Surprisingly, no one was concerned. In fact, we all watched the Jaguars game and ate popcorn. Our priority was to minimize any feelings of unease.”
While no one can truly know what to expect in a disaster situation, early preparation, deploying a situation team and constant communication is the key to minimize risk. “I’m extremely proud of our associates. Teams from our other cities jumped in quickly and headed to Florida to relieve associates who had worked many hours caring for residents,” Buchanan said.