October 28, 2020

Paramedics disinfect a gurney in their ambulance before leaving a nursing home in Tomball. This week, in Missouri County, locals expressed concern over 17 deaths that occurred from an outbreak at a nursing home. Credit: Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Coronavirus outbreak at Houston-area nursing home kills 17 residents

By Meena Venkataramanan and Carla Astudillo, The Texas Tribune

Coronavirus outbreak at Houston-area nursing home kills 17 residents” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The news comes as Texas resumes limited visitations in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities that meet certain requirements.

A novel coronavirus outbreak at a Missouri City nursing home, outside of Houston, has killed 17 residents, according to data from state officials.

City officials issued a press release this week raising alarm over 19 deaths that they said occurred at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home. Nursing home officials told The Texas Tribune that the number is incorrect and declined to provide the correct number.

The city also reported that the facility has 24 infected staff members, and the nursing home reported 11 infected residents who are in stable condition.

“This harrowing development speaks to the severity of this pandemic and how everyone needs to take it even more seriously,” said Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford of the outbreak in a Wednesday press release.

The news comes as Texas officials said Thursday that limited visitation at some nursing homes and assisted-living centers can resume, ending a monthslong ban aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus among some of the most vulnerable Texans.

Visitors are allowed to see their loved ones indoors through plexiglass barriers in assisted-living facilities where no residents have COVID-19 and there have been no confirmed cases among staff for two weeks. Physical contact between visitors and residents is not allowed, state officials said. In nursing homes, staff must be tested weekly, and only outdoor visits are permitted.

The Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home has the seventh-highest number of deaths among nursing homes in the state, tied with three other nursing homes, according to data from state health officials. Officials from the nursing home declined to comment on the timeframe during which the deaths occurred.

In the Houston area, the nursing home with the highest death toll is Focused Care at Westwood, with 24 deaths among residents as of July 23.

There have been 83 cases of the virus among residents at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home since the pandemic began, according to numbers from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Ford said she and her colleagues are concerned about the deaths and cases at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home and are continuing to monitor the situation, despite the fact that regulation of nursing homes is under state jurisdiction.

“The lack of City authority is a challenge, especially during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ford wrote.

So far, there have been over 18,000 coronavirus infections among residents across Texas nursing homes; of those, more than 2,000 have died, according to state data. That number accounts for more than 30% of the state’s total coronavirus fatalities since the pandemic began in March. The most recent data for individual facilities is from July 23, and the total statewide number of infections is current as of Thursday, so it is possible that the statewide infection and death counts are even higher.

Correction: Because of an error in state data, an earlier version of this story stated that Cimarron Health and Rehabilitation in Corpus Christi had 27 deaths, the most of any nursing home in the state. After the story ran, the state revised the data to reflect that Cimarron had seven deaths as of July 23.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/07/coronavirus-nursing-home-texas-missouri-city/.

 

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