COVID-19 testing is required at 23 psychiatric hospitals and living centers now too. Texas Governor Greg Abbott May 21 directed Texas Health and Human Services Commission to test all patients, residents and staff at the 23 state-operated inpatient psychiatric hospitals and living centers throughout Texas.
HHSC operates 13 state supported living centers (SSLCs) that provide 24-hour residential care, medical services, and vocational training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The agency also operates 10 state hospitals that provide acute inpatient psychiatric care for adults, children and adolescents.
Abbott said requiring testing at these facilities will better equip the state “to identify and mitigate these potential hot spots and protect our most vulnerable populations.” It will also “further assess the scope and extent of possible infections at facilities statewide.”
“Many patients and residents in our care are medically fragile and rely on our frontline healthcare heroes for the important care they receive. By expanding testing to everyone in our facilities, we will increase our ability to further protect everyone who lives and works in our facilities and prevent the spread of the virus throughout our system,” said HHS Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson.
Previously, residents and patients were tested only if they displayed symptoms or had possible exposure to the virus. This testing is to include individuals with no signs of COVID-19 and those who haven’t been tested within the last 30 days, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.
HHSC and Texas Department of State Health Services are to work together to test the 4,700 patients and residents, and 18,000 employees at these facilities. Testing kits are already making their way to the facilities and several local health departments have offered their assistance, according to the news release from the Governor’s Office.
As of May 20, a total of 161 patients and residents had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 107 individuals had recovered from the virus and fewer than 10 had died, according to the release.
All facilities are to continue following the strict CDC guidelines in place. All staff are required to wear masks and be trained in infection control procedures, proper use of personal protective equipment and social distancing measures. Visitor restrictions remain in place. All employees will continue to be screened for fever and respiratory illness prior to entering its facilities. Any person with a fever or unexplained signs of respiratory illness will not be allowed in HHSC facilities, according to the Governor’s directive.