Assisted living center in Tyler discusses challenge of COVID-19 prevention

Updated: Jun. 28, 2020 at 6:47 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Many nursing homes and senior centers saw large COVID-19 outbreaks in their facilities. However, one East Texas senior center was able to keep one positive case from spreading at all.

“We figured it was probably an inevitability that, at some point, we would get a positive case,” said Stormy Roberson, the facility administrator at The Waterton Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Tyler. “It seemed like they were cropping up everywhere.”

A resident at The Waterton tested COVID positive, but’s it’s what the center did prior to that positive case that made it possible for them to contain the spread.

“We set up some rooms to be negative pressure rooms, and the way the building is set up we had an isolated wing that we planned to move patients on to if we had a patient with a positive case,” said Kelli Nance, the director of nursing at the center. “We had those rooms set up and had isolation gear in the area, so that if we had a positive, it wouldn’t take much time to move everyone off that unit and move the positive resident onto it.”

When a resident at the center tested positive, the staff moved quickly to move him and his roommate to the isolation unit.

“The administrator and I, with the help of another nurse and designated staff, stayed here at the building to take care of those residents,” Nance said. “We didn’t go home to our families. We stayed here; that way, there was limited contact form other staff having to come into the unit, and we weren’t taking it home to our families.”

Nance said the isolation wing had outside door access, so meals, laundry, and anything else the staff or residents needed was delivered to that door, so there wasn’t any cross-contamination between units in the building.

“To be honest, I was scared because I had a major illness several months before, and I felt very vulnerable,” said Brenda Matsler, a resident at the center. “But, I knew they did what they were supposed to do.”

After staying in the isolation unit for 14 days, the positive patient recovered, and his roommate never tested positive.

Nance said visitors are still not allowed, and the temperature of staff and residents are checked every day.

Roberson said he isn’t concerned about the possibility of another case due to rising numbers in Texas.

“I’m not concerned. We learned a few things during our experience, and we have more supplies here now,” Roberson said. “We have amply amounts of PPE, and we’re prepared to do it again if we need to.”

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