SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood has announced a COVID- 19 outbreak at a nursing home in the city’s Southeast Side.

Wednesday afternoon, he said six residents and six staff members at Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation had tested positive for the coronavirus, including a man in his 80s who died at a hospital.

Hours later, at the daily briefing, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the number of positive cases among the residents was 8, bringing the total number of infections at the facility to 14.

Hood says the outbreak started March 21, when a resident who later tested positive for COVID-19 was taken to a hospital.

“Knowing that these nursing facilities are a very vulnerable population, we have been prepared to respond and mitigate any potential COVID-19 outbreak within a nursing facility since the events at the Life Care facility in Kirkland, WA,” said Hood.

All residents in the facility have been tested. Seventy-four are awaiting test results.

The mayor is urging people to stay away from nursing homes for the safety of the residents.

“Nursing homes should be restricting all unnecessary visitation by order, cancelling group activities and communal dining and closely monitoring their residents and employees for symptoms,” said Nirenberg.

The  facility on East Southcross has a low rating from Medicare.Gov Nursing Home Compare which gave it one out of five stars.

An inspection report in October of  last year noted problems with sanitizing practices.   In one incident, the report states that a Certified Nursing Assistant touched a clean towel  with a soiled glove after cleaning the resident’s buttock area and then used the same towel to pat the resident dry.  Two CNAs who cleaned the resident then walked out of the room without washing or sanitizing their hands.

The report also notes that a resident’s nasal cannula and oxygen tubing were not kept in a plastic bag when they were not in use.

“This deficient practice could place residents who receive oxygen at-risk for respiratory infections,” states the report.

Mayor Nirenberg was asked about the report at the briefing Wednesday evening.  He said he had just been made aware of the inspection,”so I will be asking our staff to follow up and make sure that we are catching any of those that also have prior histories,” he said.

Officials at Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center say they’re doing everything they can to stop any further spread of COVID-19.

“Our staff and residents are following the recommended preventative actions, we have been restricting visitors from entering our facility for over three weeks, and cancelled all group activities within the building as well per the guidance from CDC, CMS and HHSC as well as local health department authorities,” read a statement from officials at the facility.

They say of the six employees who tested positive, five are Certified Nursing Assistants, and one is a contract Speech Language Pathologist who has worked at the nursing home and rehab center.

“Metro Health and the San Antonio Fire Department worked with the facility’s staff to train them on proper deep cleaning and sterilization of the facility. We hope these proactive measures will ultimately reduce the number of people who contract COVID-19 and will equip staff with the ability and resources to care for their patients,” said Metro Health Director Dr. Dawn Emerick.

In addition, SAFD and Metro Health provided staff training on the proper use of personal protective equipment, and they provided a one-week supply of PPE to the facility.

Following the first positive test for COVID-19 at the Life Care facility in Kirkland, WA, the SAFD and Bexar County partners began notifying all nursing home facilities in the San Antonio area to be aware of the possibility of COVID-19 cases among their staff and residents. STRAC Medcom has been monitoring all transports from nursing facilities, by both public and private EMS systems, in an attempt to identify patients showing possible coronavirus symptoms.

 

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