To determine the extent of service disruption among home health agencies impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Structured interviews with optional open-ended questions were conducted with home health agencies in and around Houston, Texas. A random sample of 277 agencies was selected and contacted via telephone during the study period, from February to May of 2018.
Only 45% of 122 participating agencies indicated that their offices were open during Hurricane Harvey, and three-fourths reported that home visits were disrupted. The length of disruption varied: 7% reported a disruption of 1 day or less and 46% indicated a disruption of 1 week or longer. Disruption occurred even though nearly all (99%) of the agencies had—and close to all (92%) of them activated—an emergency preparedness plan.
Although most of the participating home health agencies activated their emergency preparedness plan, significant disruption in home health services occurred. While agencies are required to have clear, detailed plans in place, gaps in effective implementation of emergency preparedness plans remain.