“The elderly man who died Sunday after contracting the new coronavirus was a resident at a Sonoma skilled nursing facility, one of the senior living sites where 40 infections have emerged since June 1, according to county health officials and state health department data.
On Wednesday, county health officials disclosed the most detailed data yet on the troubling spread of the highly contagious infectious disease in these senior facilities. Among the recent infections at skilled nursing and residential care centers are 21 residents and 19 staff members.
During the previous three months of the pandemic, there were only 13 infections at senior living sites, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said.
The alarming June outbreaks at these senior care locations are occurring, she said, because staff are getting infected outside work and then transmitting the virus to elderly residents, who are among the most vulnerable in the county to contracting COVID-19.
“What’s happening is people who are employed in skilled nursing facilities or these residential care facilities are either contacts to cases from our other outbreak situations, and don’t know it, or go to work anyhow,” Mase said, during a press briefing. “Or they just are asymptomatic and they don’t know they’re cases, but they go into work.”
Public health restrictions have greatly limited visitors to these senior living centers, so “the only way” residents are getting infected is from employees who don’t realize they have the virus, she said.
Mase would not reveal the name of the skilled nursing home where the man over 65 was a resident, before he was transferred over the weekend to an unidentified local hospital where he died in less than 24 hours there.
But California Department of Public Health data shows Broadway Villa Post Acute, a skilled nursing and therapeutic facility in Sonoma, reported to the state on Monday a death related to COVID-19 had occurred there.
Mike Empey, executive director of Broadway Villa, did not return phone calls or reply to multiple emails from a Press Democrat reporter seeking comment from him.
On Tuesday, Mase said a recent outbreak at an unidentified local skilled nursing facility was partly to blame for the spike of infections Monday when county health officials reported 50 new cases, the most in a single day since March 2 when the first local case emerged, and Sunday when 32 cases surfaced.
On Wednesday, Mase again declined to name the skilled nursing center where the recent outbreak occurred, and in which senior care center the elderly man lived before he became the fifth county resident to die from COVID-19. The man was in poor health, but Mase refused to release any other details about him or how, when and where he was infected by the contagion.
In an email response Friday to The Press Democrat, Empey said one Broadway Villa resident and two staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
The workers had no symptoms and were quarantined outside the facility since their diagnosis, he wrote. The skilled nursing center had initiated COVID-19 isolation protocols for the infected resident and was “carefully monitoring the situation to maintain and promote the resident’s ongoing health and well-being,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the 40 infections Mase revealed on Wednesday are connected with a range of senior living sites. Of the 19 staff, five worked in skilled nursing facilities; 13 worked in assisted or senior living facilities; and one employee worked in a group or board and care home. Of the 21 residents infected during the outbreaks, 13 were in skilled nursing facilities; five were in assisted senior living facilities; and three were in other residential, group or board and care homes.
The health officer said 62% of local COVID-19 cases among residents in these senior living locations are occurring in skilled nursing facilities, while 68% of infections involve staff in assisted or senior living facilities.
Other recent infections at senior care centers include Brookdale Paulin Creek in Santa Rosa. In a June 20 letter to residents and their families, the facility reported two residents and three employees had tested positive for COVID-19. At Petaluma Post-Acute Rehab, two workers and two residents tested positive for coronavirus as of last week.
Earlier in the pandemic, infections also have been confirmed among staff at skilled nursing facilities Santa Rosa Post Acute and Apple Valley Post Acute Rehab in Sebastopol, as well as at Villa Capri at Varenna, a Santa Rosa assisted-living and memory care facility. “
NOVATO, Calif. – The COVID-19 test, swirling a swab high in the nostril, is not a pleasant sensation, but worth it, said dozens of caregivers who streamed in for testing Friday in Novato. “Oh my God,” gasped Molly Bray, as a public health nurse finished probing her nose.
“I would do it no matter how painful, but it was a little uncomfortable,” Bray said afterward. “I take care of an elderly woman so it would be good to know I don’t have it.”
San Francisco is among several jurisdictions planning to test all staff and patients at every nursing home. Almost half of California’s COVID-19 deaths are in assisted living environments.
That’s why Peter Rubens, founder of At Home Caregivers, has been pushing to get his employees tested.
“I think the situation is fraught with a lot of fear, everybody’s concerned, nobody wants to get anybody sick,” said Rubens, greeting workers who came to be tested.
He has seen no illness yet, among workers or clients. But rising case numbers prove that locking the doors at assisted living centers does not keep the virus out. His employees move among private homes, and congregate settings.
“It’s just so devastating to see infection rage through an assisted living facility,” said Rubens.
Sixty of his caregivers, about half his staff, signed up to be screened in the garage of his Novato headquarters…”
Read the full article here: https://www.ktvu.com/news/covid-19-swab-test-offers-peace-of-mind-to-home-health-care-workers-in-novato
NOVATO, Calif. – Nursing homes- with their vulnerable residents- might seem ideal for COVID-19 testing. But critics say testing is spotty at best, and often launched only after people are sick and dying.
“We have seen flare-ups in the total number of positives, not just patients, but also staff members,” said Governor Gavin Newsom, devoting much of his Friday briefing to the needs of seniors.
“More testing will provide more clarity and more transparency,” added Newsom.
At congregate living facilities, from assisted living to skilled nursing, residents have been quarantined in their rooms for almost two months.
They cannot leave and their families can’t come inside to visit.
“I miss playing cards and all the things we used to do together, ” called out Gail Stefani, outside the second-floor window her mother Beverly, 86, a retired school teacher.
Stefani visits her mom’s assisted living facility in Novato every day.
The two women can see each other, while they chat on the phone, which is reassuring.
“It’s really hard not to see your parent, ” said Stefani. “All that time they take care of you, and now at this crucial moment, I’m on the outside.”
Millions of families are worried about loved ones in care facilities, and frustrated that testing is almost nonexistent, for residents but especially staff, who come and go.
“They’re just health care workers, and they could be asymptomatic, infected but they don’t know,” said Stefani. “They could unwittingly pass it on, so I’m confused about that.”
This week the California National Guard sent troops- including medics and nurses- to five Southern California nursing homes ravaged by illness and death.
“We want to make them comfortable, to hopefully extend the life of someone who’s critically ill,” said Lt. Jonathan Shiroma, Guard spokesman.
In Los Angeles County, 40% of coronavirus fatalities have been at senior living facilities.
“We all have a mom or dad who might be elderly, or a grandparent, or vulnerable relative, so it hits you right in the heart,” said Shiroma.
Newsom wants improvement and notes, state officials make daily phone calls to identify facilities before their troubles are acute.
“We’re checking in on staff, we’re checking on number of positive patients, and checking in on deaths, numbers I know are important to all of us,” said Newsom.
Inconsistent testing is a sore spot for many health care professionals.
“If major league baseball teams can get tested, and all of Bolinas can get tested, then why can’t nursing homes?,” posed Peter Rubens, founder of At Home Caregivers, which provides licensed health care providers across Marin and Sonoma Counties.
This month, the village of Bolinas found the will- and the money- to test its entire community.
Rubens notes, his roving aides and staff in the facilities they visit, have no protocols other than their temperatures being checked on entry.
“The unsung heroes in this whole travesty are the caregivers,” said Rubens.
“They’re the people who make these buildings work.”
For Gail Stefani, window visits with her mom are better than nothing, but they are always tinged with disappointment and fear.
“I just feel like I’m supposed to protect her now and I really can’t, ” said Stefani, before saying her goodbyes.
“I miss you and I love you mom,” to which Beverly responded, “I love you too.”