Signs Of Concern

Garden Villa Nursing Home, like all across the state, is limiting visitations, but still has concerns over the coronavirus. Home administrators have said the virus is present, but will not say how many cases. Family members say they have been told exact numbers and are concerned about their loved ones.

A coronavirus outbreak at El Campo nursing home Garden Villa was confirmed by facility leaders Wednesday.

The number of positive cases has not yet been confirmed. Family members say as many as 37 residents and 17 staff members have contracted the virus so far, according to official phone calls they’ve received.

Trinity Healthcare, the company operating Garden Villa, released a statement confirming the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. The Texas Health & Human Services Commission was unable to verify Garden Villa’s current number of COVID-19 cases before press time, but the facility reported its first positive case between June 21 and June 28, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“(Tuesday) night was 37 patients and 17 staff members,” Suzan Berndt, daughter of a Garden Villa resident, said. “It has just exploded in Garden Villa. I think Garden Villa is following all the rules and guidelines, and I think they’re doing everything possible to stop this.”

Trinity Healthcare CEO Ryan Harrington would not confirm the number of cases at Garden Villa or when the first case was identified. Trinity Healthcare cannot release the number of cases due to patient privacy laws, according to Garden Villa’s press release.

“We are taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus within our facility. Leadership is working closely with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking appropriate steps at this time,” according to the press release.

The Wharton County Office of Emergency Management has not received any report of COVID cases in the nursing home. As of Thursday, the department lists 107 total cases with El Campo addresses, 73 of which are active currently.

As of July 9, there have been 8,253 reported COVID-19 cases in residents of Texas nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Of those, there have been 1,190 deaths and 3,463 recoveries, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Residents or staff have tested positive at about 34 percent of Texas’ 3,215 nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Families of Garden Villa residents reported receiving calls from the facility about the COVID-19 outbreak periodically during the last week. Berndt’s father, Raymond, is a 92-year-old Garden Villa resident. She said she received the first COVID-19 call on June 30, learning that four residents had tested positive for COVID-19.

Raymond tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3 and again on Tuesday with a separate test. Berndt received a call July 3 with the news. Due to the ongoing pandemic and Raymond’s positive tests, Berndt and her daughter, Marla Schumann, have been unable to visit him.

“We can’t see him,” Berndt said. “Garden Villa is our eyes and ears. I know they’re short-handed with so many of the staff members out, but I really feel like they’re doing the best job that they can. I feel like this is just so unknown and so uncertain.”

Raymond has not developed a fever as of press time, according to Schumann. His current symptoms include fluid in his lungs, chest congestion, cough and loss of appetite.

“He seems to be getting a little worse instead of a little better right now,” Schumann said.

About a month ago, Raymond underwent surgery at a Rosenberg hospital, but tested negative for coronavirus while at the hospital.

“His immune system was weak already, and he was in quarantine at Garden Villa because he was at the hospital,” Schumann said. “Our biggest concern was (him) getting sick.”

Raymond has lived at Garden Villa for about two years. Berndt said she has been happy with her father’s care there.

Berndt urged the public to stay home during the pandemic.

“How can we go to hospitals … or to nursing homes and visit our loved ones when the numbers are going to keep increasing because you’re having these big crowds and you’re having these parties?” she said. “If you don’t learn to stay home and try – everybody try, not just a handful – we’re never going to get this under control.”

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