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Hua CL, Patel S, Thomas KS, Peterson LJ, Andel R, Gordon L, Jester DJ, Dosa DM. The relationship between exposure to Hurricane Harvey and mortality among nursing home residents. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2023 Mar 1; 71(3):888-894.
BACKGROUND: Nursing home (NH) residents are vulnerable to mortality after natural disasters. We examined NH residents' excess all-cause mortality associated with Hurricane Harvey, a unique disaster with long-lasting flooding effects. We also explored how mortality differed between short-stay and long-stay residents and by chronic conditions. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective observational study of Texas NH residents, comparing 30- and 90-day mortality among residents exposed to Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 to residents not exposed in the same location and time period during the previous 2?years. Data came from the Minimum Data Set Assessments and the Medicare Beneficiary Summary File. We used linear probability models to examine the association between hurricane exposure and mortality, adjusting for resident demographics, clinical acuity, and NH fixed effects. Models were stratified by short-stay and long-stay status. We also described differences in mortality by residents' chronic conditions. RESULTS: In 2017, 18,479 Texas NH residents were exposed to Hurricane Harvey. Exposure to Hurricane Harvey was not significantly associated with 30-day mortality. However, 7.6% (95% CI: 7.2, 7.9) of long-stay residents died 90?days after exposure to Harvey, compared to 6.3% (95% CI: 6.0, 6.7) during 2015. Apparently, this effect was driven by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as approximately 9.2% of these residents died within 90?days after Harvey landing compared to 7.2% in 2015 (p? < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Hurricane exposure appears to have significant consequences for mortality among long-stay NH residents, which appear to materialize over the long-term (90?days post-hurricane in our study) and may not be apparent immediately (30?days post-hurricane in our study). NH residents with COPD may be particularly vulnerable to increased mortality risk following hurricane exposure. The results highlight the need to pay special attention to mortality risk in NH residents, particularly those with COPD, following hurricane exposure.