Rafu Wire and Staff Reports
Los Angeles County officials are investigating coronavirus outbreaks at 11 area nursing homes, where elderly residents with underlying health conditions are among the most vulnerable to the deadly new pathogen.
That’s up from three nursing home outbreaks county officials had announced on Friday. The county defines an outbreak as three or more cases involving residents or staff at a facility.
County Department of Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said Monday the agency is investigating a total of 25 institutions, 18 of them being nursing homes, that have at least one suspected coronavirus case. Of the 44 coronavirus deaths that had been reported in the county as of Monday, six were nursing home residents, Ferrer said.
On the county’s list of institutional settings with confirmed cases:
Burbank — Alameda Care Center
Gardena — Gardena Convalescent, Kei-Ai South Bay Healthcare Center (formerly Keiro Nursing Home)
Hollywood — Belmont Village
Lawndale — Lawndale Healthcare Center
Los Angeles — County Villa South Convalescent, Dungarvin Handley House, Garden Crest Rehabilitation Center, Silverado Beverly Place
Lynwood — Granada Post Acute
Redondo Beach — Kensington Assisted Living
There is another Kei-Ai facility in Lincoln Heights, which is not on the list and has not had a case of COVID-19.
The department stressed, “Inclusion on this list does not suggest neglect or wrongdoing on the part of the facility.”
“Where there’s one case at an institutional setting, our Department of Public Health team does go in and it works with the facility and management and staff to ensure they’re doing the best they can to protect the health of their residents,” Ferrer said. “… Most of the residents who are in facilities where there are cases have, in fact, been quarantined.”
COVID-19 outbreaks are occurring in nursing homes across the country, with catastrophic potential. One of the first hot spots in the U.S. was at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., where two-thirds of the residents and 47 workers fell ill, and 37 people died.
Families with loved ones in nursing homes should seriously consider pulling them out if it’s at all feasible to care for them at home, Charlene Harrington, professor emeritus at UC San Francisco’s School of Nursing, told The Los Angeles Times.
“The risk of exposure is so overwhelming,” said Harrington, who has studied nursing homes since the 1980s. “It’s a terrible concern.”
Also concerning to nursing home administrators and physicians is guidance from federal and some state regulators to accept new residents and those returning from hospitals without proof that they are virus-free.
Hospitals in New York are so burdened for space that regulators there ordered nursing homes to take in discharged patients even if they are COVID-19 positive, The Times reported.
Precautions at Kei-Ai South Bay
Kei-Ai South Bay recently announced measures it is taking in response to the pandemic:
“Kei-Ai South Bay Healthcare Center is committed to keeping our patients, staff, and visitors safe as we manage the emerging global public health situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19). As part of our commitment, we are taking additional proactive measures to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 at our facility.
“Based on the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in California, effective Wednesday, March 11, 2020, and until further notice, Kei-Ai South Bay Healthcare Center will implement visitation restrictions on all volunteer programs, vendors, and family members unless deemed absolutely necessary. We want to offer options such as FaceTime, Skype, or other means of seeing and communicating with family members or loved ones residing at the facility.
“Please call (310) 532-0700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to try these alternative methods. If there is an unavoidable reason you must visit the facility, we require a health screen and approval process to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.
“We are monitoring this developing situation closely, staying in regular contact with federal agencies, health organizations, and other experts. For additional information and updates on our response to this evolving situation, please visit our website: www.keiai-southbay.com.
“In addition to our visitation changes, frequent hand-washing is always encouraged to protect our employees, patients, and families from the spread of germs and viruses. Our patients, staff, and visitors are always our top priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure a safe environment to give and receive care.”