State senator wants more action following multiple COVID-19 deaths at area nursing home

(KBTX)
Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT
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A state senator wants public health officials to become more involved in a cluster of COVID-19 cases inside a Washington County nursing home, KBTX has confirmed.

Nearly half of the county's 70 cases are at the Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, according to Senator Lois Kolkhorst.

Six of the county’s seven deaths were residents at the facility, according to her office. At least 18 other residents have tested positive and four have been hospitalized.

“Protecting the health and safety of individuals living in our nursing homes is a top priority. That’s why I have advocated for HHSC to inspect and intervene at Brenham Nursing and Rehab to protect these fragile residents and to make sure that the nursing aides and medical staff have adequate personal protection equipment,” Kolkhorst said.

“My office is working with long-term and acute care facilities across the state to provide guidance, and secure testing as well as protective gear to fight COVID-19," she said.

Kolkhorst, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, says she has been working closely with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) which licenses and regulates the approximately 1,200 licensed nursing homes in Texas, including the Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center that has recently reported 18 in-house cases of COVID-19 along with four residents currently hospitalized.

State health officials have begun to assist the facility, offering testing and ensuring infection control protocols are implemented to stop the spread.

Kolkhorst also stated that she personally called the owner and top executives of the nursing home and has urged them to take advantage of the state’s offer to provide the center with needed personal protective equipment. Her office is also asking the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to provide testing for all staff and residents.

The company that owns the facility is Regency Integrated Health Services based in Victoria, Texas.

They issued the following statement to KBTX:

The facility is following testing protocols for the COVID-19 virus in consultation with physician advisors, local health agencies and in accordance with CDC guidelines. The health and safety of the patients and staff of Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is the highest priority. We thank the staff for their commitment to the health of all patients at Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.”

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The company did not say if any of its staff has tested positive.

According to the Washington County Office of Emergency Management, the first COVID-19 case at the nursing home was reported on April 5.

The office says local health officials have offered additional personal protective equipment to the facility but said supplies were already reported to be sufficient.

The county says it also has seen some criticism from residents who want more local intervention in the situation.

Judge John Durrenberger states, “Neither Washington County nor the City of Brenham have oversight or jurisdiction in how resident care facilities operate; however, this does not mean it’s a time to sit back and do nothing. We, as a community, have proven we are all in this together and have demonstrated time and again the impact we can make in others’ lives.”

In Washington County on Wednesday, 53 coronavirus cases were active and ten have recovered.