Rhode Island Health Care Coalition Supports Nursing Home Fire Response
Coventry, Rhode Island
During the response to a nursing home fire, the Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH's) Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CEPR) and the Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island (HCRI), a health care coalition (HCC) established through ASPR's Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) acted fast to safely relocate patients. By working with partners and using tools made available with Hospital Preparedness Program funding, CEPR and HRCI were able to transport patients to nearby hospitals, relocate those displaced by water and fire damage, and track patients effectively – all within hours.
CEPR and HCRI's immediate response helped quickly treat, triage, and relocate all nursing home residents affected by the fire. HPP funding equipped HCRI with the key tools and resources that led to the successful response, including tools that helped with patient tracking, emergency alerts, and a mutual aid agreement. In addition, both the lessons learned, and the partnerships established through HCRI's routine emergency response exercises enabled response partners to transport 26 residents to the hospital for smoke inhalation treatment and relocate an additional 50 residents whose homes had been destroyed by the fire.
Prior to the nursing home fire in Coventry, the HCRI had conducted routine emergency response trainings and exercises with regional health care and emergency response partners, such as CEPR. These exercises encouraged collaboration beyond the health care community and identified promising practices that led to the success of the response at the nursing home in Coventry.
On the night of February 2, 2022, a fire broke out at the Respiratory and Rehabilitation Center of Rhode Island, a nursing home in Coventry, Rhode Island. The fire started in a resident's room, causing the sprinkler system to activate, affecting the rooms of over 50 residents, and necessitating a prompt emergency response. CEPR and HCRI sprang into action to coordinate an immediate emergency response.
CEPR and HCRI worked with emergency response teams to support partial evacuation of the facility. The response team coordinated with nursing home administration, the on-site Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Officer, the Coventry Emergency Management Director, and hospitals across Rhode Island to effectively transport nursing home staff and residents to nearby hospitals for treatment for smoke inhalation.
During the response, CEPR and HCRI used several tools that were purchased using HPP funding. The first tool, the Hospital Capacity System, provided audible status update alerts for every emergency department in the state, urging them to submit current data on the various types of emergency department bed availability. Another helpful tool was the Patient Tracking System, which allowed the response team to see where each staff member or resident had been transported by EMS. The final resource that aided the response was the Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan, which CEPR and HCRI used to alert all nursing homes to the emergency and assess their bed and transportation resource availability. These tools as well as the response plan are grounded in lessons learned from previous emergency responses, such as the response to the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island. By coordinating with emergency response partners and incorporating lessons learned into the response, the team was able to transport affected patients to nearby hospitals and relocate those displaced by water and fire damage, within hours.