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Proposal to require senior living facilities obtain annual licenses moves forward

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 4:29 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - City Council members say they want to make sure what happened in some senior facilities after Hurricane Ida doesn’t happen again.

The city stopped in to check more than 30 senior living facilities across New Orleans after the storm passed, following reports of deplorable conditions. There was no electricity in some facilities. Some residents were stuck on floors as high as nine stories with no way of getting down to the street.

Councilmembers say they showed up to find no management on-site, master keys gone, and generators no longer working.

Five tenants died in different facilities in part because of the negligence going on, according to Councilwoman Kristin Palmer.

The city’s health department proposed an ordinance that would require between 70 to 75 senior living facilities in the city to obtain a license annually to operate. To get that license, they’d be required to have a manifest of each resident with information about them. There would have to be management on-site at all times during an emergency situation and a master key would have to be available.

“All of this stuff in hindsight makes perfect sense to do, however, I’m very sorry we didn’t have the foresight to apply this before. Something as simple as having a master key would have made a big difference because no one could get into those apartments,” says Councilman Jay Banks.

“We need to be able to plan this out in a way that makes sense and in a way that protects lives. I do believe to this day, that loss of life could have been prevented,” says Palmer.

The council pointed out that they cannot require the facilities to have a generator. That would require state legislation. The proposed ordinance will now go before the full council for approval. City leaders hope the ordinance will also help to communicate to residents what they can expect during an emergency.

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