It's been about two and a half years since Tricia Myers' family decided to move her 95-year-old mother into the Cottonwood Creek Healthcare Community in Richardson. Myers said her mother, who has dementia, needed round-the-clock care when her cognitive health began to decline.
"She was unable to feed herself, care for herself hygiene-wise," Myers said. "The dementia, of course, she would get turned around in her own home, so it was just getting to be unsafe for her."
In late March, Dallas County began seeing clusters of COVID-19 transmission at nursing homes and assisted living centers. The outbreak exposed how easily infectious disease can spread within these communities, where many residents have underlying health conditions and live very close to each other. To date, more than a third of COVID-19-related deaths in the county have been associated with long-term care facilities.
Families who have lost loved ones are seeking accountability. The federal government is now requiring nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases to residents and their loved ones, as well as to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the outbreak grows, North Texas health officials have asked families to consider bringing relatives home to reduce their risk of exposure, but that isn't an option for everyone.
Tricia Myers said putting a loved one into long-term care isn't an easy decision, but neither is taking them out. She's overcome feelings of guilt about not being able to care for her mother at home. During this pandemic, Myers feels her mom is in good hands, under the care of professionals.
"They have very strict standards," she said. "Certainly no place is perfect, but I feel very comfortable with mama being there, the care she is receiving."