By: Adam Racusin, ABC 10 News San Diego, April 27 2020
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Problems inside of San Diego County nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to grow.
Newly released lists from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and California Department of Social Services show more cases of health care workers and residents testing positive for COVID-19.
In San Diego County, Victoria Post Acute Care has one of the largest number of health care workers and residents to test positive, according to an updated list released by CDPH.
As of April 24, 2020, 17 healthcare workers and 23 residents tested positive for COVID-19, CDPH said.
Team 10 started receiving tips about positive cases at the facility two weeks ago. However, neither the County of San Diego nor the facility would confirm the number of positive cases.
At that time, the executive director told Team 10, “on the question of facility reporting, Victoria Post Acute continues to report its COVID-19-related information to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency/Public Health Department as it is required to do.”
They provided information on their internal efforts at that time saying, “As to our mitigation efforts, we are carefully following the guidance and direction we have received and continue to receive from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and State, local and county health authorities. We have been actively engaged in COVID-19 specific infection prevention, control and surveillance since earlier this year, and continue our efforts and interventions designed to minimize the exposure to or impact from the novel coronavirus.”
On Monday Team 10 asked the head of Victoria Post Acute Care to comment on the new numbers released by the state and address the situation and mitigation efforts.
The executive director responded saying, “Because our facility is affirmatively accepting and admitting COVID-19 positive patients, our ‘numbers’ are fluid. However, I can tell you that almost all of our in-house residents who are COVID-19 positive are in recovery mode. We are seeing very positive results from our residents in response to the clinical interventions being delivered by the Victoria Post Acute Care team, under the direction of the County of Public Health, residents’ attending physicians and in consultation with Facility Medical Directors. We are encouraged by the above, and are optimistic that we will see more of the same going forward. On the issue of mitigation, I believe I shared with you in detail in my email of April 16th the actions being taken by the Facility in response to the novel Coronavirus. We continue to be proactive in our interventions relative to infection prevention and control, and diligent in our attempts to comply with the guidance and direction we are receiving from the Federal and State agencies who regulate us. We are likewise working very closely with the County Health Department in connection with our COVID-19 experience, and are grateful for their partnership through this process. And as to your question about reporting of positive cases, I will reiterate that we are reporting as we are required to do to those entities that require it. We are not required to validate this information through the media who, frankly, has not been kind to the skilled nursing industry in these exceptionally difficult times.”
A nursing home advocate who spoke with 10News said nursing homes are struggling to provide information.
“Facilities don’t want to do it,” said Mike Dark an attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “It’s bad for business. They don’t want to hurt future customers, and so they are not making information readily available even when they know the virus is circulating.”
Dark said it’s encouraging that some information is being made available by the state, but he believes the data is not perfect.
“I’d like to see both states and counties do a better job explaining how many deaths there have been at facilities,” he said. “They are still not doing that well, and they need to get the data available more quickly.”
Dark said more testing will lead to more answers about what’s going on in nursing homes across the state.
“Many facilities are seeing deaths and sick people without testing them,” Dark said. “People who are not symptomatic. In some cases, that’s because of a lack of access to testing, and in some cases, that’s because they don’t want to know because they don’t want to report it.”
According to the County of San Diego, there have been 27 outbreaks in congregate care facilities, with 620 cases and 55 deaths.