ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Part of a Round Rock nursing home will be the first isolation unit in Williamson County to serve senior COVID-19 patients.

It’s an effort to discharge senior patients from area hospitals and still provide them with the nursing care they need.

Hearthstone Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Round Rock is the first “Secure Isolation Units” for senior patients recovering from the coronavirus after they are discharged from area hospitals. It’s located next to the St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center.

Last week, a local nursing home task force announced there would be two nursing home facilities, one in Travis County and one in Williamson County, separate from the Austin-Travis County Isolation Facility to meet the special needs of nursing home patients with COVID-19.

The Hearthstone Center will be able to assist nursing home residents diagnosed with COVID-19 while also keeping residents safe and separate, according to Dr. Liam Fry of the nursing home task force.

The 120-bed facility features separate resident hallways with their own exit doors and ventilation systems.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell says the facility will be equipped to serve 66 COVID-19 patients if necessary.

“It has a skilled level of nursing care. The doctors and the medical professionals, they have the right equipment,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.

Patients are already housed inside the facility, however. They’re people who don’t have COVID-19, but are vulnerable and housed at the facility receiving long-term or post-acute care. KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout asked Judge Gravell if they could be more vulnerable with the addition of the new unit.

“I can promise you as County Judge, that has been my number one concern,” said County Judge Bill Gravell. “The reason this facility is so exceptional to us, is because we have the opportunity to use a separate entrance.”

The isolation unit will have its own exit doors, hallways, ventilation systems and a unique set of staff members, as well.

“Hearthstone Nursing & Rehabilitation Center of Round Rock is uniquely positioned and
extremely well qualified to meet the needs of seniors who have tested positive for COVID-19, especially given the design of the building in which resident hallways are separate and distinct with their own exit doors and ventilation systems,” Dr. Fry said. “The caliber of the entire staff at the Center is another one of the many reasons that this particular location is a good fit for one of these much-needed isolation units.”

Judge Gravell says this is only the beginning of the war, but he’s thankful for the people he has fighting it in Williamson County.

“We’re already forward leaning,” said Judge Gravell. “We’re preparing for a second facility, if we need to.”

Judge Gravell wouldn’t name the second facility, but says it’ll be ready when there’s a need. The Round Rock facility will be open to both patients in Williamson, Travis, Burnet and Milam Counties. While it does have emergency ventilators inside, any patient who needs a ventilator will stay in the hospital rather than coming to the facility.