Crews still working to remove residents from Lake Worth nursing home

Local and state authorities are still working to evacuate all remaining residents out of the Lake Worth nursing home after dozens of residents tested positive for COVID-19.

Multiple agencies, including Texas Health and Human Services and MedStar, have been working all week to relocate residents to other facilities in the area.

They’re still working to transport 24 remaining residents, but with the ongoing investigation and safety precautions being taken, the process has been slow. 

“The biggest challenge that we’ve had for the last 24 hours we’ve been working on this project is the coordination with various agencies,” said Matt Zavadsky, with MedStar.

RELATED: Lake Worth nursing home residents removed while state investigates COVID-19 'compliance issues'

After working into the night Wednesday, MedStar crews returned Thursday morning to continue evacuating dozens of residents at the Lake Worth nursing home, along with all of their belongings and medication. 

“We’ve got state agencies and a number of different organizations that are coordinating the moves of these patients, probably for a rather long period,” Zavadsky said. “Getting all the paperwork, all the documentation, getting the acceptance at all the facilities, takes time.”

Texas Health and Human Services officials would only say they are investigating “compliance issues,” but sources have told FOX4 the facility had poor conditions and there weren’t nearly enough caregivers to care for the needs of all the residents, including approximately 25 who tested positive for COVID-19.

“All the personnel are using full personal protective equipment because we’re assuming every patient here could be coronavirus positive,” Zavadsky added.

The state’s most recently available inspection, which is from August 2019, revealed 15 violations, including the facility failing to provide proper housekeeping and maintenance, failing to allow residents to choose their own activities, schedules, and healthcare, and failing to develop an emergency preparedness and response plan.

The report described all of the violations as having a minimal potential for actual harm.

What is not clear is whether it was the COVID-19 cases, staffing shortages, or a combination of both that prompted the relocation.

State health officials said their survey team is investigating the facility’s “compliance with all relevant health and safety rules.”

Moving forward, the state has the power to revoke the facility’s license or take other enforcement measures, but officials said that all depends on what they find in their investigation. 

“Once the final 24 today are transferred to other facilities, there will no longer be any patients in this facility and that’ll be determined by the state to determine if anyone comes back to this facility,” Zavadsky explained.

The state sent in additional staff and medical personnel to help care for residents as they wait for their evacuation. 

They had originally aimed to be done by 4 p.m. Thursday.

The facility’s owner and operator has not publicly commented, and attempts to reach them were unsuccessful.