Palestine nursing homes are seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. TruCare Palestine reported 20 positive tests for residents and 12 for staff on Saturday. 

Palestine nursing homes are seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. TruCare Palestine reported 20 positive tests for residents and 12 for staff on Saturday. Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation also reports 19 cases among residents and staff that have increased since mid-July.

TruCare Living Centers-Palestine released the following statement on Monday.

“TruCare Living Centers-Palestine has taken a proactive approach to fighting COVID-19 since late February. With the high community spread, we were aware that COVID-19 was real risk for our residents. We have been following all Center for Disease Control and state guidance for employee screening and resident isolations. Once we identified one COVID case, we proactively chose to test all employees and residents immediately with a private lab. We took action to identify the positive cases and take appropriate action as directed by the CDC, Health and Human Services, and the local health department. TruCare Palestine remains committed to keeping our family of residents and employees safe.”

Though staff and residents are taking precautions and following strict quarantine requirements put forth by CDC and the governor’s order, COVID-19 has, nonetheless, entered some facilities, infecting some residents and staff. 

COVID-19 updates posted on TruCare’s website indicate no cases among residents as of July 20, though two staff members tested positive and were placed on leave. Only three residents were infected through July 28, but a new round of test results caused the sudden increase. 

Legacy at Town Creek reported no cases among residents or staff as of Thursday. Palestine Healthcare Center is not publishing numbers online, and did not return calls by press time Monday.

Texas’ skilled nursing facilities have followed strict guidelines, limiting all but essential visits since mid-April. However, the quarantine, which forbids visits from volunteers and family members, has not kept COVID-19 out of facilities. 

The rise is not due to a lack of precautions, however. Facilities continue to follow procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as requiring each staff member who tests positive to stay away from the facility for 14 days. 

“We’re working hard and doing the best we can do to protect the residents,” said Administrator Onita Brown at Greenbrier, which currently has 36 residents. 

Greenbrier’s staff are following state guidelines, requiring residents to stay in their rooms for most of the day. They eat meals and exercise inside their rooms, and do some activities in the hallways, but their interactions are limited. 

Most facilities are also providing additional training to employees and screening staff members when they report to work. At Greenbrier and TruCare, residents with positive results have been relocated to a single hallway separated by a partition, and staff wear personal protective equipment.

Families are only allowed to visit residents outside the windows to their rooms, but many also communicate through online conferencing, such as Zoom or Skype, or smartphone technologies, such as Facetime. Many residents are still waiting for an end to months-long quarantine guidelines. 

Texas Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,307 COVID-19 cases in Anderson County Monday. With 2,309 cases, Smith County is the only county in the East Texas region reporting more. So far, Anderson County lags the region in COVID-related deaths, with only nine reported Monday. 

Texas Health and Human Services provides updates on cases by county on its online “COVID-19 Case Dashboard.”

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