The Indiana State Department of Health started implementing a new Long Term Care Bed and Personnel Tracking System Dec. 1.

The system will use a Web-based questionnaire to track total bed occupancy at long-term care (LTC) facilities, such as nursing homes, on a monthly basis.

Facilities are supposed to provide the facility census on the last day of the month; bed availability for men and for women; bed availability in any Alzheimer’s unit; and availability of ventilator beds.

Facilities also are supposed to provide contact information for key contact people, such as administrators and attending physicians or nurse practitioners.

The most important reason for creating the system is emergency preparedness.

“The need for such a system can be readily demonstrated by recent emergency situations in Indiana,” health department officials say in an advisory letter discussing the program that was posted by the Indiana Health Care Association, Indianapolis. “In the summer of 2009, Indiana experienced significant flooding. Obe nursing home that had to be totally evacuated had planned to evacuate to sister facilities. Those facilities were no longer accessible because of the flood waters. The facility therefore needed to know where there were nearby available beds.”

Health department officials say that, at the time, they had no ready source for current bed availability information.

The state also wants to use the tracking system to help with routine placements, determine state occupancy rates, provide education and training programs, improve the efficiency of other survey programs, and improve the accuracy of personnel tracking, officials say.