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A new way to fight COVID-19 in Texas: positive-only nursing homes

Could test program be a model for the country?

HOUSTON – Nursing homes have been hot spots for COVID-19, not just in Texas, but across the country. Nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths in Texas have been in nursing homes and senior living facilities. So the race to protect some of the most vulnerable people is ramping up.

Now, there’s a new idea to treat the sick and protect the healthy — COVID-only nursing homes.

“We are a COVID positive building, so we are only taking COVID positive patients at this time,” said Kara Garman, Executive Director of The Medical Resort at Pearland. “If other nursing homes or hospitals have an outbreak of cases, then they will transfer (patients) over here. We provide them quality care and then we get them home."

The pilot program

That facility in Pearland and its sister, The Medical Resort at the Woodlands, are the only two locations in Texas participating in this pilot program at present. The hope is if it’s successful, other facilities can open as well and serve as a big weapon in the war on the virus.

“We said we’ve got great partners with long term facilities,” said Lori Upton with the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. “Let’s find those systems that have multiple locations in our region and see if they will partner with us to evacuate their clean patients to another clean facility and then turn facilities into a regional COVID hospital.”

Model for the nation

The Medical Resort at Pearland is currently caring for 20 COVID-19 patients with a capacity of 112 total. The facility in the Woodlands has 25 positive patients and can hold 65 more. Creators of this program hope to make this a model for the rest of the nation in the months to come.

“We’re taking a vulnerable population, with a disease entity that strikes them very badly, and we want to be able to put them in a place that has the expertise to care for that population as well as all the wrap-around services for better outcomes,” Upton said.

For more information on The Medical Resort programs, click here.