By Carmen George, The Fresno Bee, June 11 2020
Denise Plank visits her father, Ed, 84, through his nursing home window at Fresno’s California Armenian Home nearly everyday. It’s her only way of connecting with her father due to the coronavirus lockdown at the facility. By Craig Kohlruss
At least one health care worker at a nursing home in Fresno has died from COVID-19 – the first reported staff death at a skilled nursing facility in the central San Joaquin Valley, where patient cases and deaths also continue to rise.
That is the fifth-largest number of deaths at any one skilled nursing facility in California. Redwood Springs Healthcare Center in Visalia has the most patient deaths with 29, followed by three homes in Los Angeles County, according to state data.TOP ARTICLES Devin Nunes’ attorney says he’s at ‘dead end’ in quest toreveal identity of Twitter cow
The Dycora deaths account for more than half of Fresno County’s 49 coronavirus deaths.
Ten more nursing homes in the Valley reported coronavirus at their facilities since last week – 42 homes in total from Merced to Kern counties. Eleven of them have reported coronavirus deaths.
Others caring for Fresno coronavirus patients in different facilities have also died, including a Kaiser Permanente Fresno hospital nurse, Sandra Oldfield.
Kings County is now on the growing list of skilled nursing homes with cases. Hacienda Post Acute, Inc. in Hanford recently reported 21 patients and 20 health care workers with coronavirus.
Hacienda Post Acute and Kings County health officials did not immediately respond to The Fresno Bee on Wednesday.
PUSH FOR MORE TESTING IN CALIFORNIA NURSING HOMES
While it’s not clear what led to that sudden report of dozens of cases at Hacienda Post Acute, the state recommended last month that all skilled nursing facilities patients and staff be tested for COVID-19, and followed up with future surveillance testing. Baseline testing for facilities without prior coronavirus cases must be completed by June 30.
Testing practices have varied by county and facility. Some families and advocates have been pushing for more testing.
The Department of State Hospitals recently announced it will implement widespread testing in its hospitals.
Tulare County had two new skilled nursing facilities report cases over the past week: Kaweah Manor Convalescent Hospital in Visalia (less than 11 patients with COVID-19 and 12 health care workers with the virus) and Porterville Convalescent Hospital (fewer than 11 patients and fewer than 11 workers with the virus).
Fresno County health officials said they have been working with nursing homes to implement guidance from the California Department of Public Health, including numerous “all facilities letters” issued by the state.
Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said in response to a question Friday that the county requires acute care facilities to test patients for COVID-19 before discharging them to a skilled nursing facility, either on the day of discharge or a couple days prior. Vohra said some hospitals can get test results back in three hours while others take up to 48 hours. Recently discharged patients entering a nursing home should initially be cared for in a separate area, away from other patients, to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus, Vohra said.
Dycora spokespeople and Fresno County health officials didn’t comment Wednesday about the most recent Dycora deaths.
CORONAVIRUS GROWING IN SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES
In the Valley, Tulare County has the most affected nursing homes – 14 facilities with COVID-19. That’s followed by Fresno County, with 12.
Beyond The Bee’s last nursing home report last week, and what’s reported above, here are other Valley nursing homes that have seen additional coronavirus cases recently, according to data reported to the state.
Other recent increases in Fresno County:
▪ Bethel Lutheran Home, Inc. is now reporting cases for the first time – fewer than 11 patients and 11 health care workers. The state doesn’t report numbers fewer than 11, citing privacy concerns.
▪ Dycora – Fresno in downtown Fresno also saw more cases: One more patient with COVID-19 (93 total) and three more workers with the virus (31 in all).
▪ Dycora – Manchester has one more patient with COVID-19 (20 overall). Its total number of patient deaths and infected workers stayed below 11 each. A Dycora spokesperson said last week that the Manchester facility had two patient deaths.
Other recent increases in Tulare County:
▪ Redwood Springs: Four more patients with coronavirus (121 total) and one more worker (67 total).
▪ Linwood Meadows Care Center in Visalia: Eight more patients (34 total) and eight more workers (19 total).
▪ Sierra Valley Rehabilitation Center in Porterville: Four more workers (21 total). The facility has had 75 patients with the virus and less than 11 patient deaths – one of five homes in Tulare County reporting fewer than 11 patient deaths.
In nearby Valley counties, Kern County has four new nursing homes with cases (10 facilities total, three with COVID-19 deaths) and Merced County has two more homes with cases (four total).