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Clear hurricane plan a need for Lowcountry nursing homes, lawmaker says

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 file photo, Janice Connelly of Hollywood, sets up a makeshift memorial in memory of the senior citizens who died in the heat at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, Fla. Multiple people died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. (Carline Jean /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

South Carolina State Representative Wendell Gilliard said Wednesday he wants a clear hurricane plan for Lowcountry nursing homes.

“I would like to see a more definitive definition on our actions,” Gilliard said. “What type of actions do we take at all our facilities whether it be nursing homes, assisted living? Do we need to update anything?”

Gilliard said the death of eight elderly people at a Florida nursing home sparked him to action. The Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center in Florida lost power during Hurricane Irma.

“We do not want the situation that happened in Florida to ever happen here in South Carolina. So I sought an update from DHEC for safety action items whether in a storm or hurricane,” he said.

Officials with the DHEC responded to Gilliard’s letter with a letter of their own. They wrote:

“DHEC created a computer application that allows us to quickly and accurately identify licensed facilities by evacuation zone. Using this new technology during Hurricane Irma, we quickly identified all of the facilities in the evacuation zones and our Health Regulations division staff contacted those facilities by phone.”

The letter goes on to say the application allows them to check if those facilities have adequate food, water, and staff to transport residents.

“We need to go a little further, we need to know what we’re going to do with all the facilities in South Carolina,” Gilliard said.

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