The Schleicher County Nursing Home has been on lockdown since March 13th. That’s when disaster declarations and emergency orders issued by President Donald Trump and Governor Greg Abbott closed all nursing homes to outside visitors, including family members, due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, there have been no COVID-19 cases reported in the Schleicher County Nursing Home, making it one of the few in the state to remain coronavirus free.

“That’s for today,” Board President Randy Mankin said during Monday night’s hospital board meeting. “Tomorrow is another day and I worry that it’s a just a matter of time – a matter of when, not if, before the virus shows up in our building.”

Nursing homes in neighboring counties have already been hit hard. Ten residents of the Focused Care Nursing Home in Crane died when the virus swept through that facility early during the outbreak. Two deaths have been reported in the Crockett County Care Center in Ozona, with four more in the Reagan County Care Center in Big Lake. In all, a total of 32 positive COVID-19 cases are assigned to members of the Reagan County Care Center staff or its residents.

Fully one-fifth (1,173) of Texas’ COVID-19 deaths have been in nursing homes, according to information released Monday by Texas Health and Human Services (HHS). The agency offers a website with links to COVID-19 data for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, state hospitals and state supported living centers. The information can be found online at: https://bit.ly/2P5e0Zq

The Schleicher County Hospital District board met Monday night via video and teleconference. They learned that state-mandated preparations have been made to establish a quarantine area inside the nursing facility. The area requires six rooms to be isolated from the rest of the nursing facility with plastic or vinyl sheeting. The rooms are intended for residents who are quarantined, as well as changing rooms for staff members and supply rooms.

Employees have their temperature checked and are screened for symptoms each time they enter the building. The same applies to vendors, service technicians and health care providers. State regulators, known in the industry as surveyors, are also screened before entering the building. And, all staff are wearing masks when on duty and personal protective equipment, when in contact with residents.

If a nursing home resident is diagnosed with COVID-19, and their symptoms warrant, they will be transfered to the hospital. In most reported cases, the symptoms don’t require hospitalization and the patient is directed to quarantine at home, unless or until their symptoms worsen.

“Home for our residents is the nursing home,” Mankin explained. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me – returning a COVID-19 positive resident to the place where people are the most vulnerable, but that’s the state’s plan for now.”

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Jason Chatham from the board of trustees. He was sworn-in as Schleicher County Sheriff on Thursday, July 23rd, following the retirement of Sheriff David Doran. State law prohibits an individual from holding two elected positions at the same time.

Mankin praised Chatham and thanked him for his many years of service to the hospital district, including his time on the construction committee.

“Those weren’t easy times, building this facility” Mankin said. “I remember all those construction meetings we had in that old pink house and it was reassuring to know that you were there when we had to make a lot of tough decisions.”