More than five dozen residents of a Lake Worth nursing home were evacuated Wednesday afternoon at the request of state health officials, according to MedStar.
MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky could not say why the Texas Department of State Health Services requested they move the patients from the facility, but he confirmed about two dozen of them were positive for COVID-19.
"The state let us know that about 25 of the patients here at this facility are coronavirus positive, so that’s part of the mix," Zavadsky said. "You’ll see that we’re taking precautions on every single patient that we’re moving to protect the patients, protect our staff, and the folks at the receiving facility against the coronavirus."
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The Lake Worth Nursing Home is in the 4200 block of Wells Drive and is home to about 63 people. About half of the residents will be moved to the same location; where the others are being sent is not yet known.
However, Zavadsky said the facilities they were being moved to are in Tarrant County.
"Thankfully, the state was able to find locations in the immediate area, so if there are family members that routinely check on their family, they won’t have far to go. That also, quite frankly, makes it easier to do that evacuation, because we don’t have to drive halfway across the metroplex and then come back to the location," he said. "So, it’s better for the patient, better for the family, and quite frankly, it’s better for MedStar."
MedStar used an AMBUS, a large bus that can transport up to 17 patients at a time, to move many of the residents, Zavadsky said. The rest were moved one at a time in ambulances.
The move was expected to take most of the afternoon.
From Texas Sky Ranger, a number of ambulances were visible Wednesday at the nursing home along with several people wearing full-body PPE.
Records obtained by NBC 5 showed the nursing home had room for 109 residents and was cited 15 times in 2019 for health and life code violations including problems with doors latching, lighting, oxygen safety, fire prevention, and providing sufficient emergency power. Health code violations included housekeeping issues and at least once instance of not allowing a resident to choose their own activities, schedule or health care.
In a statement, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said the agency had a team of investigators at the nursing home within an hour of being notified about its "status."
The statement did not elaborate on the initial reports or what it meant by "status."
"Our regulatory authority allows us to revoke a nursing facility’s license or take other enforcement action against a facility for failure to comply with health and safety regulations," the agency said. "What enforcement action we take against this facility will depend upon the outcome of our investigation."
The agency went on to say, "HHSC continues to investigate all long-term care facilities in the state that report one or more positive case of COVID-19. We are also coordinating closely with local health authorities, DSHS, and other entities as we conduct these investigations. We also are continuing to issue updated guidance on COVID-19 response to long-term care facilities throughout the state."
A woman who answered the phone at the nursing home said no managers were at the facility and she had no information on what was happening.
A second phone call made just before 2:30 p.m. Wednesday requesting a comment was not returned as of this writing.