The long trip back: Nursing home reopens months after winter storm
Special to the LPR
After dealing with challenges and obstacles wrought by the February winter storm and the COVID-19 pandemic, Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center says it has recovered and is able to serve its residents once again.
Burst pipes and the damages that ensued added insult to injury for the home, which had already been reeling after 11 months of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents were forced to evacuate after the storm, the company’s representatives said.
After closing for several months, Parkview, which is now under new management, is hosting a grand reopening event from 3-6 p.m. Thursday on the facility grounds where it will recognize emergency personnel who helped with the evacuation during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“The resilience of a small population located here in Lockhart, Texas has a story that can only be told by those who lived it. The story of Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has had many obstacles to overcome,” said Parkview marketing director Venessa Weohr-Smith. “America, along with the world, has suffered a pandemic that has caused the most vulnerable members of our communities to be left isolated and protected for fear the COVID-19 virus could cost loss of life. After almost 11 long months of restrictions and policies to protect our elderly, keeping them away from the families, Parkview residents suffered yet another blow to their lifestyle when the ice storm of 2021 took them from their physical home.”
Following extensive repairs, the center is again welcoming residents, Weohr-Smith said.
“The staff of Parkview welcomed their first resident back into the building Wednesday, Sept.8, with cheers and tears,” she said.
Over the next 10 days, more returns followed, with most residents returning.
Meanwhile, management of the facility had changed hands, with the previous corporation relinquished association at the facility the first day that residents returned to their home.
The new corporate consultant is Eduro Healthcare LLC. The Salt Lake City company has acquired five companies.
A frightening February
February 15 was a challenging day for both residents and staff at Parkview.
That day, the water pipes in the ceiling of a resident’s room burst.
The only resident in the room had been there a short time and was quickly transferred to another room, but water ran out of those pipes for 5 ½ hours because due to the shutoff valve being encased in a block of ice outside.
Emergency personnel attempted to shut off the main valve, despite being called to another emergency they returned two hours later and were successful in shutting the water off to the building, Weohr-Smith said.
“During this time, staff and able residents tried to keep water out of the resident rooms,” she said. Blankets, sheets, and anything that could be found were put in front of the resident doors and the staff used brooms and squeegees to move the flowing water towards shower drains.
Since the pipes from the sprinkler system had burst, this affected the fire alarm going off every few minutes.
Once the water main was shut off, heat was lost because the building ran on a boiler system.
The one saving grace was that there was never a loss of power.
“Residents and staff were able to remain in place that first night,” Weohr-Smith said. “Through the night and the next day, water contained in the pipes continued to burst causing even more flooding. Trash cans were used to gather water to flush toilets. By now waterfalls from several locations throughout the building, were becoming greater than the number of staff trying to stop one flow prior to another one starting.”
The next day, while dealing with the seemingly constant water leaks, evacuation options were in the works. Families were called in hopes they could care for their loved ones at home.
But only four residents were able to go home to their families.
“Most families voiced that they were without power, water, and heat as well, and therefore were unable to care for their loved one at that immediate time. Finally, two nursing facilities in San Marcos, relatively close together, were located that could take residents and nursing staff. Due to road conditions, transportation could not safely transport until the next day. That last night in the facility, residents were taken from the coldest areas of the building and lodged them in the dining room with space heaters lent by staff and resident families.
As the week continued, the staff packed up the most basic items the residents would need and waited for the ambulances and transport vans to arrive.
“The crews from Southern Cross, relocating the residents were amazing,” Weohr-Smith said. “They took 28 residents that first day and only stopped when it started snowing again and the roads became too dangerous. The transportation crews returned the next day and were able to transport the remaining 45 residents to safety. By the afternoon of the 18th, the halls and rooms of Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation were empty.
“Much of the staff could not make it to the building, but the ones who could were absolutely amazing! They worked tirelessly to take care of the residents and keep them occupied. The residents were amazing as well.”
The woes continued when it came time to assess the extent of the damages. Initial expectations were that it would take two to four weeks for repairs to be completed.
However, once the construction crews evaluated things, it became clear that it would take much longer than previously thought.
A scarcity of laborers, COVID restrictions and extensive damages exacerbated things. In the end, an estimated 80 percent of the building was repaired and practically every space received cosmetic upgrades, Weohr-Smith said.
The staff had initially worked at the other facilities that helped with transfers, but they eventually had to be furloughed while waiting for the repairs to be completed. Most of the staff collected unemployment, while some got other jobs.
Construction was finally completed enough to start the transition process on Aug. 18. The storage pods were emptied, and the resident rooms and offices were reset.
“Once it came time to return, most staff members returned to Parkview anxious to welcome their extended families back to the facility,” Weohr-Smith said.