SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Nursing home residents who test positive for COVID-19, but do not require hospitalization will be taken to one of two area facilities announced Friday–Westover Hills Rehabilitation and Healthcare in the West Side or River City Care Center on Nolan Street in the city’s East Side.
“We are hopeful that the preventative measures undertaken in early March to visit and prepare all area nursing facilities will prove to be effective and render the cohort facilities not necessary,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood. “But if the need arises, these facilities will allow for proper separation of infected residents from the rest of the long-term care population, while greatly reducing the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed in nursing homes by concentrating those recovering in one place.”
Residents at both of the locations selected have been moved to other facilities to make room for nursing home residents infected with the novel coronavirus who do not need hospital care.
“We selected Westover Hills for this purpose because it is well suited to properly cohort these patients and includes separate entrances, break rooms and staging areas in accordance with the guidance of the CDC, said Andy Ashton, who oversees operational efforts for Keystone Care in several markets in Texas, including San Antonio. “We have also made sure that we have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) that is necessary to provide this care while keeping our caregivers and patients safe.
At River City Care Center, which is operated by Creative Solutions in Healthcare, approximately 50 residents were moved earlier this week to other facilities owned by the company.
“We are working seamlessly with the City of San Antonio and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to transform the River City Care Center into a safe and secure environment for San Antonio’s COVID-19 nursing home residents,” said Gary Blake, president and co-founder of Creative Solutions in Healthcare, which manages the facility. “Each of these patients will receive a skilled nursing level of care around the clock, staffed by some of our most experienced team members.”
Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, who represents that area, opposes the plan because of the Center’s proximity to residential homes on all sides.
“The optics of placing this in the heart of the black and brown community where their probability to die is many times greater because of underlying health conditions does not give our community the confidence that the government is looking out for them,” said Calvert.
He’s also concerned that many homeless people frequent the area because of the nearby Catholic Worker House.
“The homeless do not know about COVID-19 and are likely to spread it,” he said.
Calvert suggests a better plan would be to house these COVID-19 patients who do not require hospitalization in vacant hotels, Freeman Coliseum, the former Nix Behavioral Hospital on Babcock Road or in a rural environment.
District 2 City Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan says there was not enough time to get input from area residents at a public forum.
“Fire Chief Hood has assured us that this facility will not threaten the health and safety of our neighbors, and the former residents of River City have all been safely relocated to other facilities,” said Andrews-Sullivan. “It is important that this shining city on a hill make contributions from all of its four corners.”
No sick residents have been moved to either facility, and there is not a need to move anyone at this time. The city says there are no known localized outbreaks at long-term care facilities other than the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where 74 residents and 27 employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Twelve elderly residents at Southeast who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
Infected residents at the facility on East Southcross are isolated from healthy ones, and Mayor Ron Nirenberg says those residents will not be relocated.
.“Once again, our local healthcare community has stepped up to provide a critical service to our most vulnerable seniors,” said Nirenberg. “I want to commend Keystone Care and Creative Solutions for working collaboratively with our emergency care workers.
He and Bexar County Judge Wolff are recommending that the Westover Hills location be the first to take in coronavirus patients from other nursing homes. If there’s a need, others would be taken to River City Care Center.
“We are hopeful that that the preventative measures undertaken in early March to visit and prepare all area nursing facilities will prove to be effective and render the cohort facilities not necessary,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood. “But if the need arises, these facilities will allow for proper separation of infected residents from the rest of the long-term care population, while greatly reducing the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed in nursing homes by concentrating those recovering in one place.”