HUMBLE – A Humble nursing home was hit with a quarantine order after a rash of COVID-19 related deaths were reported. The order was issued Thursday by the Harris County Public Health Department against the Oakmont Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Humble.
Dr. Umair Shah, the executive director of the Harris County Public Health Department, said he was particularly bothered by delays in reporting COVID related deaths.
“If you’ve got an untoward consequence, you make it known. You don’t delay,” said Shah. “There were at times two or three weeks before the deaths were reported.”
Shah said at least 13 residents died from COVID-19 at the facility and a 14th case is under review. Shah said 56 residents and staff are also currently being monitored for COVID-19.
“If you have a problem, that’s fine, we’ll help you fix that problem. We’ll work with you, but you got to tell us that,” said Shah.
Shah said the county first learned of trouble at Oakmont near the end of April. Shah said both the county and state regulators addressed infection control issues at Oakmont during two visits.
Shah said the state then took over monitoring the facility and he thought the situation improved. However, at the end of May Shah said he found problems lingered and more deaths were reported.
“That’s when we got re-involved and said, ‘wait a minute, what’s going on here?’” said Shah.
Shah said it wasn’t until the first of June the county learned of all the COVID related deaths following another visit to the facility along with officials from the State Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees long-term care facilities.
Prior to the pandemic, federal Medicare records show 10 deficiencies were found during a 2017 health inspection, 27 deficiencies were noted in 2018 and 4 in 2019. Records showed all problems noted during inspections had been corrected. However, the government’s rating system gives the facility a “much below average” overall rating.
Shah said the county’s order now requires, among other things, immediate notification of any new cases, deaths, or even a change in symptoms at the facility.
“When you delay giving us that information, that’s what really causes all sorts of issues because then we can’t help we can’t work with you and I think that’s the key issue,” said Shah.
The other part of the county’s order requires Oakmont to beef up infection control procedures, make sure staff is trained and properly equipped with personal protection equipment, as well as making sure positive residents are isolated.
“We are saying, ‘Look, we need you to fix this to remedy this because it is unacceptable,’” said Shah.
Officials with the Health and Human Services Commission sent KPRC 2 a written statement:
“We are actively investigating at this facility to assess its compliance with all relevant health and safety rules. Results of this investigation can be requested upon completion,” said assistant press officer Danielle Pestrikoff.