By EMILY GUEVARA
Operators say a Texas State Veterans Home in Tyler should admit its first residents within a few weeks after an initial inspection prompted some delays.
Local, state and national officials unveiled the Watkins-Logan-Garrison Texas State Veterans Home during a dedication ceremony in November.
The home, the eighth built in Texas as part of a state and federal partnership, will provide long-term nursing care for Texas veterans, their spouses and parents who have lost children in military service.
But the expected move-in of its first residents in late November was delayed after an initial inspection by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.
Britta Strickland with Touchstone Communities, the San Antonio-based company managing the home, said the department found some additional requirements that needed to be met during its first life safety code inspection in mid-November.
"Everything wasn't as perfect as it needed to be," she said.
Some of the changes she described included putting a "no smoking" sign on generators, ensuring all refrigerators that house medications are hooked up to a generator in case of power outages and installing an additional nurse call device in the bathrooms to ensure a resident can pull one if they fall.
She said the changes, completed by the contractors, will help ensure the facility meets all state and federal regulations.
Ms. Strickland said because this veterans home is built differently than traditional nursing homes and even the other veterans homes around the state -- it has 10 cottages designed to create a greater community feel -- applying the state and federal standards to this design was a new process.
Jim Suydam, press secretary at the Texas General Land Office, the state partner in this endeavor, echoed her comments.
"It's the first of its kind in the state, so we've had some different kind of hurdles ..." Suydam said by phone. "We're confident we'll work through it. It's just, it's a new thing."
Cecilia Fedorov, a press officer with the state's aging and disability department, said it is not unusual for the agency to find some additional areas to be addressed on an initial inspection.
She said Texas nursing facilities have to pass at least three inspections before being approved for a nursing facility license.
These include life safety code and health inspections, the latter conducted after the first three residents move in.
Once the facility passes its health inspection, the home can admit residents up to the 100-person capacity.
Ms. Strickland said she expects the state agency to conduct its follow-up inspection next week and, provided the home passes, the first three residents would be admitted after that.
She said 95 people already have completed applications to live there.
"We can hardly wait to report that we're open," she said.