When disaster strikes — natural or otherwise — at a nursing home, there has to be a plan and place for residents. This is nothing new; it is something every facility is required to train and prepare for.

Part of that preparation is agreements between facilities — like one between Pine Village in Moundridge and Kansas Christian Home in Newton that allowed Pine Villiage to relocate residents to Newton during a flooding episode.

Part of that preparation is training — and that is what was happening in Harvey County on Friday. Again, hosting a full-scale exercise to test preparedness is not new.

"Once a year we are required to host a full-scale exercise for (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)," said Robert Hunter, director of plant operations for Kansas Christian Home.

But what was new Friday was who was at the training. Friday, there were representatives from five nursing homes and Harvey County Emergency Management participating in the KCH training.

"This is the first one I have been involved with that has dissimilar longterm care facilities under separate operating organizations working together in one exercise," said Gary Denny, director of emergency management of Harvey County. "Kansas Christian Home does not really have any association with Newton Presbyterian Manor or Halstead Health and Rehab, yet they have taken the initiative to come together and work together."

About a year ago, emergency management assisted in the creation in a network of eight nursing homes in the area in response to changes from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Five of those facilities were working together March 22. 

Participating in the training were Halstead Health and Rebah, Harvey County Emergency Management, Kansan Christian Home, Kidron Bethel Village, Presbyterian Manor and Schowalter Villa.

For the scenario, Kansas Christian Home was attempting to place 10 "evacuees" with the other participating locations following a tornado strike that left KCH with no water, no electricity and a damaged building.

This is the first time this type of collaborative training has occurred in Harvey County.

"In a disaster, we really have to rely on each other with evacuation, supplies and stuff like that," Hunter said. "We are familiar with the other facilities and we know each other. ... We are trying to make a plan where we can help each other out every year."