The resilience of Texas skilled nursing providers is being tested following severe winter storms and extreme cold temperatures that have caused sustained power outages and multiplied operational challenges already complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than 3 million homes and businesses in Texas were left without power this week following a record-breaking winter storm. State health officials this week said one-fifth of nursing homes reported suffering from weather-related emergencies, including facility damage and other operational issues. Dozens of providers have been forced to relocate or evacuate residents, the Houston Chronicle reported. 

Top areas of concern for both nursing and assisted living facilities are ensuring availability of staff to care for residents, managing power outages with backup power, and potential supply chain disruptions, according to the Texas Health Care Association.

“Facilities are also dealing with water boil restrictions in some communities as well as broken pipes that have occurred,” Kevin Warren, the association’s president and CEO, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Thursday. 

“Our focus has been working with facilities and communicating with local, county and state officials and power companies to expedite and prioritize power restoration. These circumstances are challenging under normal emergency preparedness situations; however, the ongoing preventive efforts and guidance to manage COVID are adding to the challenges of the severe weather,” he explained. 

Rich Parsons, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokesman, said in a statement that the agency is working closely with facilities during the winter weather event.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of the people in long-term care facilities we regulate,” he said.

Despite the circumstances, Warren said he is seeing “amazing resilience from the individuals in this profession here in Texas across the board.” 

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and there’s definitely a lot of will being demonstrated across Texas,” Warren said.