A second COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed in Victoria at Post Acute Medical Specialty Hospital of Victoria-Southeast, officials said Thursday night.

Nine cases of COVID-19 are linked to this facility, six of whom are Victoria County residents, according to a news release from the Victoria County Public Health Department. In all, 10 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday in Victoria County, bringing the county’s total to 114. Of those, 67 people have recovered, and two county residents have died.

Post Acute Medical’s southeast facility is inside Citizens Medical Center, 2701 Hospital Drive, on the sixth floor. Post Acute officials did not immediately return calls for comment. PAM signed a 20-year lease to operate on Citizens’ campus last year.

“The safety and wellness of our patients is our priority,” Jennifer McDaniel, spokeswoman for Citizens Medical Center, said in an emailed statement. “Citizens Medical Center continues our measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, actively screening all employees and anyone entering our building.”

She added: “Post Acute Medical Southeast is a separate hospital within Citizens Medical Center. This incident is isolated to the Post Acute facility, and does not involve Citizens.”

The outbreak has infected both employees and patients at PAM’s southeast location. Infected employees have been removed from the facility and are required to isolate at home, according to the news release.

Infected patients have been moved to the company’s PAM North location, 102 Medical Drive.

“The health department is investigating all potentially exposed health care patients and employees, including those who have been discharged,” according to the news release. “The health department also is working closely with the facility’s management and corporate offices to ensure proper preventative measures are carried out, including a terminal cleaning at this facility.”

This is the second outbreak linked to a Post Acute Medical facility. The first outbreak, which was identified April 2, stemmed from Post Acute Medical Specialty Hospital of Victoria North. At least 44 cases have been linked to the first outbreak, including at least 10 inpatients who were infected.

Post Acute Medical is a private company based in Pennsylvania. The company operates four facilities in Victoria. In addition to the specialty hospitals at PAM North and PAM Southeast, it also operates PAM Specialty Hospital of Victoria South, inside DeTar Hospital Navarro, 506 E. San Antonio St. and PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Victoria, 101 James Coleman Drive.

Long-term care hospitals, also known as long-term acute care hospitals, are designed for patients who need hospital-level care for extended periods time, sometimes weeks or even months. Patients in these facilities are typically transferred from a traditional hospital’s intensive care unit and need more care than they could get at their own home or in a skilled nursing facility. Because inpatients at long-term care hospitals are already seriously ill, the introduction of COVID-19 to such a space is very worrisome, Dr. Anil Makam, an assistant professor at University of California, San Francisco, said after the first outbreak at PAM North was reported.

After the first outbreak, Victoria’s local health authority Dr. John McNeill issued an “order of control” on PAM North. The order mandated that all “identified, potentially exposed staff and employees” and all “potentially exposed current and former patients” be tested for COVID-19. The order also directed the facility to suspend their outpatient services, among other steps. McNeill lifted those orders April 8, after the facility offered to be converted into a dedicated facility to treat COVID-19 patients. It is unclear how many COVID-19 patients are being treated at PAM North in total.

COVID-19 has a wide range of effects on people who become infected. The majority of patients will not need hospital-level care, and some will have very minor symptoms, if they notice them at all. But for other people, the disease can progress and cause serious illness and even death. People who are at higher risk for serious illness include those who live in a long-term care facility and people with underlying medical conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients in a long-term care hospital are both already seriously ill and living in a long-term facility.

Ciara McCarthy covers public health for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to VictoriaAdvocate.com/report.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. She reports on insurance, the cost of health care, local hospitals, and more. Questions, tips, or ideas? Contact: cmccarthy@vicad.com or call 361-580-6597.

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