‘We feel helpless’: Family of COVID-19 patient at nursing home concerned about care he’s receiving after fatal outbreak

Family of 50-year-old Jerry Garcia said he learned of deadly outbreak while watching the news

SAN ANTONIO – The family of a Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center resident who tested positive for COVID-19 last week said they are concerned that he is not receiving proper care as he and dozens of other people inside the facility attempt to recover from the deadly virus.

Jerry Garcia, 50, tested positive for the virus last week at the nursing home in the 4300 block of E. Southcross, according to his family. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 70 residents and staff members at the location have tested positive for the virus and city officials confirmed that eight residents have died so far from complications related to COVID-19.

“When he told us they tested him and it came back positive it was a reality check. Because you’re seeing the news and its happening to everyone else. But here it struck home,” said Lillian Ramirez, Garcia’s older sister.

RELATED: Nursing home with 70+ COVID-19 patients fined $68,000, cited for 28 violations in 2019

Garcia, who has shown only mild symptoms, including a sore throat, is a multiple-stroke survivor who also suffers from eczema and congestive heart failure, his family said.

He communicates with his family via telephone and text message, since visitors have been barred the past month from visiting the Southeast Side facility.

The family claimed Tuesday that Garcia received a shower, the first time he was bathed since March 17, as the facility contends with dwindling staff numbers.

“There’s definitely help needed there. We don’t believe they’re properly being cared for,” said Ramirez, who added that she received a text from Garcia claiming that additional staff members were brought in from out of town.

READ MORE: Infected staff at nursing home with 75 COVID-19 patients worked at other San Antonio facilities

Ramirez also said her brother learned a localized outbreak occurred where he was living while watching the news, instead of from staff at the facility.

Officials with the nursing home and its parent company, Advanced Healthcare Solutions, have not responded to repeated requests for comment from the KSAT 12 Defenders.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health and fire officials last week announced the localized outbreak inside the building.

“He wanted to fight.”

Ramirez said her brother was moved to the facility months after suffering multiple strokes in November 2018.

“He was at the point where it was either pull the plug or let him live. He wanted to fight,” said Ramirez.

Facility connected to nursing home with deadly COVID-19 outbreak now under investigation in San Antonio

For Garcia and dozens of other residents battling the virus, the next few weeks will be critical.

People living at long-term care facilities typically have underlying health conditions and live in close proximity to one another, two factors that make them more susceptible to contracting the virus.

San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood said Friday the facility was built in a way that allows for really good separation of patients.

“So we can move all the positives in one area of the hospital and have the ones that are not affected in another area,” said Hood.

READ MORE: These are the health care facilities being monitored for COVID-19 outbreaks in San Antonio

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy-nominated photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.

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