Two people have died from COVID-19 at long-term care facilities in Dallas County, and County Judge Clay Jenkins said Sunday that clusters of positive COVID-19 cases are popping up at nursing homes in the county.
Right now, there are four nursing homes with known positive cases. At Edgemere Senior Living in Preston Hollow, three residents and one employee tested positive. Two out of the three residents to test positive have now died.
Skyline Nursing Center in Oak Cliff also had 14 people test positive, and at least four of them are hospitalized. There are also known positives at the Reserve at Richardson and Monticello West in Dallas.
Families across Dallas County have a difficult decision to make in the coming weeks about whether to leave their loved one in a nursing home, Jenkins said Sunday.
“Maybe last month they would have been better off in the nursing home, but if you can take care of them, they are probably better off in your home," Jenkins said. “When these things get into the nursing homes they spread and they spread rapidly and you get into a situation where virtually everyone there has a very high chance of getting it."
Janice Knebl is with the UNT Health Science Center and has been working in long-term care for more than 35 years. She said people in nursing homes have complex care and medical needs, and those needs are best met in a nursing home.
“I think that for a family member with a loved one with a complex, critical condition and those functional impairments it would be very difficult for them to try to manage that by themselves in the home setting,” Knebl said. “The families had to wrestle with the decision to place their loved one into a nursing home originally, which is one of the hardest decisions you will have to make in your life, and so that decision had been made because of their needs, knowing that those needs would be best met in that environment.”
Jenkins clarified his position on Monday, saying that he is not ordering anyone to do anything, he simply wants them to consider their options and do what is best for their family.
“This is a situation where we’re going to see some other nursing homes and you’ve got some decisions to make as a family,” Jenkins said. “My decision may not be your decision, but you’ve got some decisions to make.”
The development is especially concerning after news from Washington state in recent weeks. A Seattle-area nursing home had more than 30 deaths due to the novel coronavirus.
Ted Land is a reporter in western Washington and covered the story from the beginning.
“It went from one, to two, to three. Every day the death toll would rise,” Land said. “I think the lesson from this is that initially, people didn’t react fast enough. The day they found coronavirus was in that facility they didn’t react fast enough to protect people there and beyond the facility.”
Now, nursing homes and families in Dallas are facing a similar dilemma.
“This is not a good situation. It is a true dilemma,” Knebl said. “None of the choices we are making are good choices, we are trying to make the best choices given the situation.”