Nursing homes, assisted living communities battle COVID-19 as cases rise in Central Texas

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 18:59:24-04

The pandemic has created problems for everyone, but some of the worst impacted come from nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Today, Governor Abbott announced that Omincare, CVS and the State of Texas are teaming up to provide COVID-19 testing centers for assisted living and nursing home facilities across the state.

Over the last couple of weeks, Central Texas has been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

Now, local nursing homes and assisted living centers are seeing their caseload spike.

COVID-19 is especially dangerous to the elderly population, and it can spread quickly.

Many families are now worried about moms, dads and grandparents who are currently living in nursing homes or assisted living communities.

“I'm thinking about whats going to happen to my mother. It’s just terrible. She’s made it 87 years through all kinds of hardships, surgeries, this and that. Its just heartbreaking,” said Janey Eastwood.

Janey Eastwood’s mother has lung disease and other health conditions. She currently lives at Ridgecrest Retirement and Healthcare.

The family says the facility now has positive cases but isn’t doing enough to keep their mother and other residents safe.

“My brother asked them about the cleaning and the cleaning process. ‘Have ya’ll done that yet?’ and ‘No, we are still waiting on the state.’ But the lady at the health department said that they told her, ‘Yea, its been done.’ So we are getting two different stories," said Janey Eastwood.

25 News reached out to Ridgecrest and they declined to comment.

“All I want to know is if my mother has been in contact with that person. I said, ‘If she has, she needs to be tested right away.’ 'Well, we are following the state guidelines and we cant do anything until we hear from them,’” said Janey Eastwood.

25 News did reach out to the Bell County Public Health District.

Bell County said they don’t have a large role in how facilities are run, but they are ensuring the facilities know if they have cases and give recommendations on how to prevent and respond.

25 News reached out to several nursing home and assisted living communities to find out their cleaning procedures.

Here is what The Atrium of Bellmead told us in a statement regarding their health and safety practices:

"As of today, staff and residents are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

All residents are having their temperatures checked and are being screened for COVID-19 related symptoms three times per day.

Staff are screened upon arrival for their shift. They answer a series of questions about contact and travel, then a designated team member takes and records their temperature. This staff screening log is submitted to facility administration, daily.

Facility team members have educated residents on social distancing practices, infection control processes, and provided information on how to self-monitor and report symptoms to a nursing team member.

Staff have been provided extensive education. The facility has held staff in-services to ensure that they are aware of risk factors, including signs and symptoms of COVID-19. We have held training on proper infection control protocol including: regular handwashing, correct usage and disposal of PPE, and social distancing practices.

As much as is possible, staff members only work on their assigned hallway with that hall’s specific residents. This practice is known as consistent assignment and it helps to limit the amount of people each resident interacts with.

The facility has enhanced disinfection and housekeeping measures. They are regularly cleaning high touchpoint and resident use areas. Housekeeping team members have been provided additional, extensive training on proper disinfecting techniques, disposal of trash, and cleaning of linens."