Texas is on a path to recovery after Hurricane Harvey and is working with the federal government to help maintain its nursing homes, even as a state-imposed moratorium on evacuations and restrictions on travel remain in place.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission on Tuesday approved an emergency rule that allows nursing homes that have received federal disaster aid to reopen.
The rule was prompted by an inspection of the state’s nursing homes by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Texas Health & Human Services Department and the state Department of State Health Services.
The nursing homes are not eligible for federal disaster assistance.
The order is the first step in what will be a monthslong process to re-open nursing homes in the wake of the storm, the Department of Health Services said in a news release.
The first step of the process is to verify that the nursing home has been inspected by the state and is in compliance with federal guidelines.
The Department of Human Services has not released the nursing homes’ conditions, but the nursing-home owners said they are not in any immediate danger.
“We are working to get these nursing homes up and running,” said Donna S. Miller, a spokeswoman for the Department.
“There is no immediate threat to the public or the safety of our residents, but we will take action to protect them from a threat if there is any.”
The order also says nursing homes can reopen if they are in “critical need of care.”
In response to the order, the Houston nursing homes association called for a moratorium on new nursing home construction, as well as the removal of the restrictions on the movement of people and goods from nursing homes.
The association said the move would be necessary in light of the nursing facilities being closed and that it would prevent the spread of the virus.
The Houston nursing home association said in its statement that it wants to “take advantage of the temporary closure and provide quality care and services to our residents while we await recovery.”
The association called on the state to “immediately establish an independent inspection program to verify compliance with all of the applicable federal regulations, and to remove any remaining restrictions on movement of residents, goods, and services from these facilities.”