Veranda health care center had several sanitation violations prior to first COVID-19 death

On Thursday, Cameron County confirmed 29 additional cases of COVID-19

Many of these are linked to Veranda Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Harlingen.

As of Thursday, one employee and two residents of the nursing home have died.

Potential warning signs about infection control were present in the nursing home long before the outbreak started.

Cameron county officials are investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 inside the nursing home.

“[There are] 12 employees, two individuals related to the employees, and 15 residents who have tested positive which include the two which just passed away,” said Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño in a Thursday press conference.

But the question is how could this have been prevented?

State leaders took action, mandating an order where only essential employees were allowed inside nursing homes before the first confirmed case and death.

But what if the employees where the problem?

Inspection records from the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cited Veranda for being deficient in basic sanitation procedures.

In 2015, an inspection found that a nurse at Veranda used expired sanitation wipes to sanitize equipment.

In 2016, similar violations occured.

Certified nurse assistants did not wash hands while providing care.

Specifically, nurses not washing hands or gloves when going from soiled to clean areas when bathing a resident.

There were similar violations seen in the last two years.

In 2018 CMS wrote: “CNA did not change gloves after handling soiled items before handling clean items”

The CNA told inspectors that she thought it was ok to do so since the patient was not fully rinsed.

Veranda has a below-average rating on the CMS website, which cites issues with staff and health inspections.

CBS 4 reached out to CEO Jason Hess about the prior violations but he refused to talk on the phone or give an on-camera interview but replied with an email, stating:

“I can confirm that the actions we take on a daily basis at the facility are intended to be compliant with all existing federal, state, county, and city regulations and orders. This includes our process in hiring and orientation, during which we spend a significant period of time ensuring that our staff is fully competent in a whole host of substantive areas including infection control.

Hess also added that infection control is one of the most cited deficiencies for nursing homes in texas.

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