State: Kerrville nursing home failed to control COVID infections, isolated patients away from their belongings

12 Waterside residents have died of the virus, state records show

Waterside Nursing and Rehabilitation has had well over 100 cases of COVID-19 among its staff and residents. (Sal Salazar, KSAT)

KERRVILLE, Texas – A Kerrville nursing home failed to control infections of COVID-19 and forced some residents into isolation without their personal belongings, according to the findings of a state investigation obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Twelve residents of Waterside Nursing and Rehabilitation, located in the 1200 block of Water Street, have died of the virus as of Jan. 13, according to figures compiled by Texas Health and Human Services.

State health investigators last fall uncovered a long list of violations inside the facility and determined residents were not receiving a proper level of care. The probe followed an outbreak of the virus that eventually infected well over 100 residents and staff members.

State officials also recommended that the facility’s provider agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services be terminated later this year, but a spokesperson for Waterside said it has remedied the compliance issues and the cancellation of the agreement will not be taking place.

Residents who tested positive for COVID were moved to an isolation unit, but in many cases were not allowed to take their personal belongings, the investigation found. Investigators described the restriction as an infringement of the rights, health and safety of residents.

READ MORE: Kerrville nursing home staffer details ‘missteps’ she believes led to deadly COVID-19 outbreak

The investigation also found that multiple residents were missing portions of their care plans.

Facility staff also failed to properly track how often patients were being bathed, records show.

One patient’s hair was described as being long and “appeared greasy and stringy looking,” according to state records.

One resident told investigators she had not been bathed in a month. Records show the resident had refused showers multiple times.

Investigators instructed facility staff that more attempts needed to be made to bathe residents before documenting them as refusals.

Investigators also noted that a resident did not have a physician’s order for a catheter he was using.

The facility was also written up for not disposing of garbage properly and that rubbish found outside the building was causing a potential fire hazard.

State records show the facility did not have a fire inspection on record the past year, had a lack of checks for some of its smoke detectors and had walkways that were obstructed.

In mid-November, the facility was able to come into compliance for controlling infections of COVID-19. They were found to be out of compliance weeks earlier, state records show.

A communications person hired by Waterside’s parent company, Elliott Griffin, released the following statement regarding the state’s investigation:

“Regulatory agencies have confirmed the facility has remedied all findings that arose from the Commission’s investigation in October 2020. It is standard procedure to recommend an outside date to terminate the provider agreement in such investigations if the identified issues are not resolved. As stated, we have remedied all instances and are now in substantial compliance. Our facility will continue to provide the absolute best care possible to all of our residents.”

Staff says management failed the residents

A Waterside employee told the Defenders late last year that facility administration failed to take the proper steps to prevent the virus from spreading once it was brought inside the facility.

“There was no structure there, there was no order whatsoever. So everything was all over the place,” the employee told the Defenders.

The employee also said staff assigned to the facility’s COVID unit were allowed to come and go from that floor to other parts of the building during their shifts and in some cases even left the facility, until finally being told the practice needed to stop in early November.

Group text message records provided to the Defenders also showed nurses discussing specific medical information about some patients, including how much of the sedative Ativan to give one resident.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.