Two San Antonio nursing homes will house coronavirus patients from other nursing homes in the region, City officials announced Friday.

Creative Solutions in Healthcare and Keystone Care LLC are two of the largest nursing home operators in San Antonio. Residents from Creative Solutions’ River City Care Center on Nolan Street and Keystone Care’s Westover Hills Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center have already been moved to other facilities to make room for nursing home residents with COVID-19.

The plan comes after 101 people at Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center tested positive for COVID-19. Of the total, 74 were residents and 12 have died. 

No sick nursing home residents have been moved to the East Side’s River City Care Center or the Westover Hills facility in Far West San Antonio yet. Having two nursing homes ready to accept nursing home residents with COVID-19 will help prevent spreading the virus in other care facilities.

Andy Ashton, who oversees operational efforts for Keystone Care in several markets in Texas, including San Antonio, said that the company chose the Westover Hills location because it has separate entrances, break rooms, and staging areas to comply with CDC guidelines on caring for COVID-19 patients. He added that the company has adequate personal protective equipment.

“Our entire team of clinical experts has developed a specialized plan to care for COVID-positive patients and those that may be suspected to be COVID-positive,” Ashton said in a statement Friday.

Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6) said she was pleased with the new housing plan for nursing home residents with COVID-19.

“This is a smart plan by the nursing home community to take care of our own in Bexar County and the surrounding counties,” she said. “Hopefully, we don’t need it, but it will be there if we do. Preparation is essential now.”

Creative Solutions has operated River City Care Center, which is located on the near East Side, since January 2019, and all 50 residents have been moved to other facilities owned by Creative Solutions. 

County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) said in a statement that he opposed the decision to send COVID-19 patients to River City Care Center, calling it a “shoddy nursing home and care center.” Calvert also cited a San Antonio Express-News story on River City’s citations of abuse and neglect. He did not respond to further requests for comment.

Gary Blake, president and co-founder of Creative Solutions in Healthcare, said each COVID-19 patient who is admitted to River City Care Center will have access to skilled nursing and experienced team members.

“I can assure you we are committed to upholding the highest standards and protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] and our state and local authorities for preventing the spread of this disease within our walls and beyond,” Blake said in a statement. “We are proud to be part of this assertive and proactive effort to curb this pandemic which has impacted our lives in every possible way.”

Both the River City Care Center and the drive-thru testing site at Freeman Coliseum are in District 2. Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan said if there had been more time, the City would have sought public input on this new use for the Eastside nursing home.

“Fire Chief Hood has assured us that this facility will not threaten the health and safety of our neighbors, and the former residents of River City have all been safely relocated to other facilities,” she said in a statement. “It is important that this shining city on a hill make contributions from all of its four corners.”

The Village at Incarnate Word also said Friday that a second employee had tested positive for COVID-19. That employee works for the Village’s independent living program and did not provide direct resident care, CEO Paul Harrison said.

“There are no other Village employees with a positive COVID-19 test, and there are no residents at The Village with a positive test,” Harrison said in a statement Friday. “Metro Health’s contact investigators are currently working this employee’s case.”

The Village’s first employee case of coronavirus was in a nurse who also worked at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The nurse stopped working at the nursing home after March 25 and the Village was told the nurse tested positive on April 2.

Independent living residents are now confined to their rooms and staff body temperatures are taken at least twice every shift, Harrison said Friday.

“We will continue to work with Metro Health and Texas Health and Human Services to ensure we follow the appropriate strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care communities,” he said in a statement.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.