Local senior facilities are keeping out visitors to limit coronavirus exposure

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions face a higher risk for coronavirus complications

Amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, San Antonio area assisted living facilities and retirement communities for the elderly are facing hard choices on limiting visitor access - even family members - to keep their residents healthy.
Amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, San Antonio area assisted living facilities and retirement communities for the elderly are facing hard choices on limiting visitor access - even family members - to keep their residents healthy.

SAN ANTONIO – Amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19, San Antonio area assisted living facilities and retirement communities for the elderly are facing difficult choices on limiting visitor access - even for family members - to keep their residents healthy.

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions face a higher risk for complications from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some facilities that house or care for elderly people have already announced restrictions on guest access, while at least one said there’s a good chance restrictions are likely coming.

It’s just an extra measure, just to make sure that we’re gonna be providing the right care and (we’re) not putting their lives in jeopardy,” said Krystal Rhoades, a family resident ambassador at Poet’s Walk San Antonio, a memory care assisted living facility with patients in their 60s through 90s.

As of Thursday, Poet’s Walk was limiting visitors to hospice agencies, home health, and physicians. Family members will only be allowed in if there’s a situation where they have to be there, Rhoades said. Even then, they will be screened for temperatures and have to fill out a form.

Though there have been no cases of community-transmitted COVID-19 in San Antonio, Rhoades said the decision to restrict visitors was made at a corporate level.

“We’ve been having some feedback by the family members and they’re very understanding and they’re actually happy that we’re taking these precautions because nobody wants their loved one to be at risk of any type of form, even just the regular flu,” Rhoades said.

Nursing homes in Floresville are not allowing any visitors either, out of an abundance of caution to limit coronavirus exposure to its residents, according to a report from Wilson County News.

Wilson County News says the Floresville Residence and Rehabilitation Center and Regency Manor Nursing & Rehab Center have closed their doors to visitors and have increased its cleaning and sanitizing efforts due to coronavirus concerns.

Visitors, whether they are family members or friends, are not allowed at either of these facilities unless it’s considered a special circumstance, according to WCN’s report.

WCN says only health professionals, vendors and nursing home staff are allowed at both of the facilities, all of which are being screened for the coronavirus upon entry.

Back in San Antonio, the executive director of Morningside at the Meadows Retirement Community, Wesley Wells, said there is a “very good” chance they will clamp down on visitor access at their campus, which includes independent and assisted living, nursing, and rehabilitation.

The community is already canceling resident outings and restricting guest access for vendors and entertainment. Additionally, guests will not receive a visitor name tag if they have a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, or have had contact with someone who has COVID-19.

A next step could be to restrict access to only medical personnel and one or two family members, Wells said.

But we’re trying to consider resident rights for visitors, families’ rights and needs to see their loved ones, and balance it out with a really sincere effort to prevent any of that COVID-19 spreading to our community," Wells said.

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About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.