Nursing Homes in Arizona Lack Adequate Sprinkler Systems
Placing your loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision. The event requires extensive thought as well as research into the quality and affordability of nursing homes in your area. Most people looking into nursing homes on behalf of their loved one think to check the quality of nursing home care as well as the facility itself.
But a sprinkler system? You might think that having a sprinkler system would be a requirement. Shockingly, it wasn’t until just two months ago, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Automatic sprinklers have been federally mandated in any new nursing home certified by Medicare and Medicaid since 2000. Older homes, however, were not required to have them until 2008. Complaints from the industry resulted in a deadline five years later.
The deadline has since passed, and many nursing homes across the country are still not in compliance: eleven hundred of the nation’s sixteen thousand total. These homes do not have sprinkler systems or have only partial systems.
The fact that all nursing homes do not have full sprinkler systems is horrifying. Nursing home residents often have limited mobility, making it much more difficult to escape a burning home. Others have cognitive limitations that may make it difficult for them to understand how to respond to a fire alarm. In addition, nursing homes are often understaffed. In the event of a fire, there may not be enough staff members to properly evacuate all residents.
Nursing home fires are a very real concern. Tragically, a fire in 2003 caused by a resident of a nursing home in Connecticut killed sixteen people. That same year, another fire in a home in Tennessee killed fifteen residents.
The National Fire Protection Association has reported, on average, five fire-related deaths per year from 2006 to 2010 in nursing homes.
If a nursing home does not have a sprinkler system the next time it is inspected, it will receive a “deficiency” and must submit a “plan of correction” within ten days.
In Arizona, approximately thirty-four nursing homes are reported as having only partial systems, including one in Scottsdale.
As you visit potential nursing homes, check for the presence of sprinklers by looking at the ceiling of the rooms and hallways. “If they’re not there, turn around and walk out the door,” recommends Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.