North Texans Offer Help to Nursing Homes in Dorian’s Path

From a conference room in Addison, a small team is gathering information that may save lives as Hurricane Dorian threatens the East Coast.

"I know how much life loss can happen in a smaller hurricane. I am really concerned about this one," said Dr. Katie Jarvis, CEO of Bed Beacon, a software company designed to allow healthcare facilities to share details on available beds.

The company hasn't officially launched, but it opened up its platform for free to nursing homes in Dorian's path. Employees and volunteers worked through the weekend calling homes in Florida, George and South Carolina to learn what beds are available, gather details on the type of care possible and input the information into searchable maps.

"You need to find the right fit for a patient," Jarvis said.

"We have the number of beds, but whose got the beds and are they active? Are they open? It's all situational," Chief Technology Officer Sree Sreenath said.

"The decision of whether or not to move is still their decision, but the information is what they don't have," Sreenath explained.

During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, a photo of patients sitting in waist deep water at a facility in Dickinson, Texas, highlighted the risks of sheltering in place.

However, the decision to evacuate patients who are frail and in need of specialized care is a difficult one.

Some studies have concluded evacuation can cause more harm for seniors facing additional health complications.

Jarvis said she hoped the legwork done by her company can help facilities make the transition more easily – if the home decides to evacuate.

"Sometimes ambulance drivers will just show up at the facilities that are evacuating and then call while they're en route to find the next bed," Jarvis said. "The faster you can find a bed, the better because then the ambulance driver can pick up another person they need to evacuate. You can evacuate so many more patients than if you just try to do phone calls on the ground and hopping from one place to the next."

With Dorian's unpredictable path, Jarvis said the company is adding additional maps for other states along the East Coast.

The company is asking for volunteers to help call nursing homes as the dangerous storm continues to develop. Volunteers can email the company: evacuate@bedbeacon.com

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