Families frustrated by lack of testing for vulnerable nursing home residents

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a name no daughter needs to obtain: the nursing residence the place Cissy Sander’s mom lives has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“That is now not only a story on the information,” she instructed KXAN. “That is private. The virus is now part of my life as a result of my mom may presumably contract it at any cut-off date, since she’s been uncovered.”

However final week, when Sanders hung up the cellphone, she stated she was left with extra questions than solutions. Sanders’ mom lives at Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, one among 10 Austin-area nursing houses to substantiate to KXAN at the very least one case of COVID-19 amongst its residents and employees.

Since studying of COVID-19 on the facility, Sanders has been making an attempt to get her mother examined for the virus, however stated she was knowledgeable that the ability is simply testing residents or employees displaying signs.

Sanders has scrambled to contact state and native leaders in an try and get everybody at Riverside examined, however the roadblocks she has hit spotlight shortfalls in testing for the virus past her mom’s nursing residence.

“Why would you wait till the residents or employees present signs?” Sanders stated. “They’d merely say to me, ‘We’re following CDC tips.’”

Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Heart is operated by Regency Built-in Well being Methods, a nursing residence firm with 58 areas all through the state. Brooke Ladner, a Regency senior vp, stated the well being and security of residents is the ability’s highest precedence.

“Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Heart is following testing protocols for the COVID-19 virus in session with doctor advisors, native well being companies and in accordance with CDC tips,” Ladner stated in a ready assertion despatched Wednesday. “Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Heart is in compliance with state and federal tips.”

Dying toll rising

As Sanders pushes for residents at her mom’s nursing residence to get examined, the COVID-19 demise toll at nursing houses statewide is ballooning. As of Wednesday, the state has reported 128 deaths in nursing houses and assisted dwelling services. That depend has greater than doubled, up from 47 deaths reported just last week.

KXAN requested the state what number of nursing residence residents have been examined for COVID-19. A spokesperson for the Well being and Human Providers Fee stated the company is just not monitoring these numbers.

“The virus is within the constructing. It’s spreading, and no public well being official is taking the measures to get all of the residents and all of the employees examined, once they know they’ve been uncovered.”

Cissy Sanders, daughter of an Austin-area nursing residence resident

Based on HHSC, 211 of the state’s 1,220 licensed nursing services have reported at the very least one case of COVID-19. That’s greater than 17% of all nursing services.

Moreover, 59 of the state’s 2,004 assisted dwelling services have reported at the very least one confirmed case.

Regardless of a number of requests by KXAN, the state will nonetheless not launch a listing of services which have had residents or employees take a look at optimistic, or the whole variety of instances in these services.

Sanders stated she’s “drained” of listening to facility directors and officers inform her they’re following “tips,” so she began calling native well being authorities and state lawmakers to demand solutions.

“The rules might need been working a month in the past, when many of those nursing houses went into lock down, however the tips are clearly not working now for nursing houses,” she stated. “If the CDC tips for nursing houses have been presently working, then the virus wouldn’t be in these locked down services.”

She stated after days of requesting a take a look at for her mother, the ability obliged. Nevertheless, she’s nonetheless involved about how the virus is spreading amongst residents and about employees who might be asymptomatic, bringing the virus by means of the doorways.

“My mother might take a look at adverse in the present day, however three days from now she may take a look at optimistic,” Sanders stated.

In a town hall last week hosted by the Austin Justice Coalition, Interim Austin-Travis County well being authority Dr. Mark Escott stated their aim was to “get to the purpose the place anyone that has signs regarding for COVID-19 can get examined, and might get examined free of charge.”

Sanders stated after listening to that, she was confused was the town wasn’t placing extra of a precedence on testing high-risk aged populations in houses.

“I do know there’s a scarcity of testing. I examine it on daily basis within the information,” Sanders stated. “However that’s not my fault. It’s actually not my mother’s fault. So, why ought to my mother need to pay a value — her life –as a result of somebody didn’t do their job and get the ample testing out to the general public in a widespread trend, so we could be testing in our nursing houses regularly?”

A Tuesday report in The Los Angeles Instances examined the shortage of COVID-19 testing nationwide, saying the nation “isn’t shut” to having sufficient sufficient testing. The report notes labs throughout the nation have struggled to take care of ample testing provides, employees sufficient skilled personnel and coordinate sources.

Travis County has had 900 confirmed instances of the virus and 14 deaths. Nationwide, there have been over 600,000 instances and 27,000 deaths, based on the city’s tracking website.

KXAN requested state officers and Austin Public Well being whether or not widespread testing had been thought of in long run care services housing at-risk Texans.

APH couldn’t reply our questions relating to testing steerage for houses in our space, however instructed KXAN, “Austin Public Well being started taking proactive measures to keep away from unfold in long-term care services, akin to nursing houses, on March 11 by means of a Well being Authority Management Order. The Order mandated a number of specified actions together with temperature-checking all staff, sufferers, guests and volunteers previous to entry to services. Moreover, the Nursing Houses/LTCF Job Drive visits nursing houses to assist develop plans to stop unfold.”

A spokesperson for HHSC stated, “We’re directing nursing services to observe the steerage of their native well being division/native well being authority and the Division of State Well being Providers on testing.

So far as different measures HHSC is implementing in houses, the company has instructed KXAN up to now, “Along with going on-site to research complaints and facility-reported incidents, our groups are conducting infection-control centered inspections for suppliers which have been cited within the space of an infection management within the earlier three years. Lengthy-term care services are required to inform HHS and their native well being authorities of any presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19 for a resident or employees. When a nursing facility notifies us of a severe incident as required, akin to a optimistic COVID 19 take a look at for a resident or employees member, we actively examine to evaluate the ability’s compliance with all related well being and security guidelines.”

Sanders stated she’s involved the variety of reported instances will simply proceed to rise, with out widespread testing.

“The virus is within the constructing. It’s spreading, and no public well being official is taking the measures to get all of the residents and all of the employees examined, once they know they’ve been uncovered,” Sanders stated. “That’s not simply being irresponsible, that’s being negligent. And when individuals are negligent and careless with human life, these people have to be held accountable.”

She went on, “I’m not going to look at my mom die due to elected officers’ incompetence.”

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