Concerns rising over COVID-19 outbreaks at San Antonio nursing homes

State reports 73 COVID-19 deaths in Bexar County nursing homes

SAN ANTONIO – Nursing homes are still struggling to contain the novel coronavirus amid rising cases in Texas.

The state reported 73 COVID-19 deaths in Bexar County nursing homes and 67 nursing homes with outbreaks as of July 17. According to San Antonio Metro Health, there are currently at least 25 nursing homes with active outbreaks.

Windsor Mission Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on the South Side is still being monitored.

U.S. Air Force veteran Teodoro Laurel lived at Windsor Mission Oaks and died of COVID-19 complications.

“He had started a very deep sense of loyalty to the United States of America for his service,” said Teodoro Laurel Jr., son of the veteran.

Laurel was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery last week.

“The biggest things that we’ve learned out of my dad and being taught from my father was being respectful and loyal to, not only your country but also your family,” Laurel Jr. said.

The younger Laurel said his dad began feeling sick in March. He said his dad took several COVID-19 tests.

“About three or four negative tests before ultimately testing positive for COVID-19 and on the day of his passing at the hospital,” Laurel Jr. said.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Windsor Mission Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was announced on July 9, one day before the elder Laurel died.

There were many things Laurel Jr. said he wishes he had known.

“They didn’t explain into detail that there was an outbreak going on. They didn’t go into detail about exactly how many cases and how many deaths had occurred,” he said.

The city reported 91 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at Windsor Mission Oaks, and five have died. Plus, 51 staff members had also tested positive.

A spokesperson for Windsor Mission Oaks sent KSAT the following statement:

“Since the pandemic began, administrators and staff at Windsor Mission Oaks have consistently complied with enhanced infection control and prevention processes to help ensure the health and safety of our residents and staff. This includes a requirement that all employees have access to personal protective equipment and understand how to use it correctly. We are grateful that we have been able to receive PPE resources without difficulties or delays.

“Below is a list of other important guidelines we continue to follow at Windsor Mission Oaks:

  • Staff is required to wear masks upon entry to the facility until the end of their shift and will wear full personal protective equipment when appropriate for the resident’s presumed level of exposure
  • Staff and essential medical professionals are assessed and screened prior to entering the Facility; if they present with any sign or symptom of illness, they are sent home
  • Isolation barriers and dedicated units to separate any potential COVID-19 infections from other patients
  • Visitation, group activities and communal dining remains suspended at until further direction from CMS and the CDC
  • Cleaning and sanitizing are occurring regularly and daily throughout the Facility
  • Our clinical team has implemented COVID-19 specific infection surveillance protocol and is monitoring our residents frequently for potential changes in condition
  • Frequent handwashing
  • Frequent use of hand sanitizer
  • We continue to work closely with state officials to update and revise our procedures according to CDC and CMS recommendations.

All cases have been reported to the appropriate officials. Residents who tested positive were immediately isolated and the staff members were sent home and will not return to work until medically cleared. Please consult the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website for additional information.”

Dr. Junda Woo, the city and county health authority, said it’s taking weeks for some nursing homes to receive COVID-19 results. She said they can’t stop transmission if it’s taking that long.

Woo said the federal government is sending rapid antigen tests to local nursing homes to improve the turnaround time.

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