Two facilities, in Fresno and Visalia, tied for most COVID-19 nursing home deaths in state

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By Carmen George, The Fresno Bee, June 16 2020

A Fresno nursing home and one in Visalia each now have the most COVID-19 patient deaths at a skilled nursing facility in California.

Dycora Transitional Health & Living-Fresno and Redwood Springs Healthcare Center each have 29 coronavirus patient deaths, according to state data.

Dycora – Fresno had four more coronavirus deaths since The Bee’s last nursing home story on Thursday, which included at least one health care worker death – the first at a skilled nursing facility in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Dycora – Fresno and Redwood Springs also have a similar number of total COVID-19 patient cases: 116 and 121, respectively.

Other recent coronavirus nursing home deaths in the region:

Evergreen Care Center in Fresno reported coronavirus deaths and cases to the state for the first time: Less than 11 patient deaths, patient cases and health care worker cases. The state doesn’t report numbers below 11, citing privacy concerns.

Hacienda Post Acute, Inc. in Hanford now has fewer than 11 coronavirus patient deaths. Hacienda reported cases for the first time last week. It’s the first skilled nursing facility in Kings County with COVID-19.

Dinuba Healthcare in Tulare County is also now reporting 11 coronavirus patient deaths. The facility is one of six homes in Tulare County with skilled nursing patient deaths.

The three facilities in Fresno County with skilled nursing deaths – including less than 11 patient deaths at Dycora – Manchester – account for more than half of Fresno County’s 55 coronavirus deaths.

There are now 51 skilled nursing facilities with COVID-19 from Merced to Kern counties. That number grew by eight since last week – six of them homes in Fresno County.

Fresno County now has 18 nursing homes with coronavirus, jumping for the first time above Tulare County, with 15.

The state’s list only includes skilled nursing facilities, not long-term care homes for the elderly. The California Department of Public Health said its list does not imply wrongdoing by a facility.

Three in Fresno County were listed by the state on Monday as not reporting data as required, including Dycora – Manchester and The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, which have reported coronavirus cases in the past.

The Valley has become a worrisome COVID-19 hotspot in California. Coronavirus outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities were mentioned by the state as reasons for putting Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties on a fluctuating watch list of nine California counties currently receiving more support from the state.

Recent increases in cases, more homes with COVID-19

Fresno County skilled nursing facilities reporting coronavirus for the first time this week, according to the state: Evergreen Care Center, Pacific Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Dycora – Clovis, Fresno Postacute Care, Twilight Haven and Valley Healthcare Center. Each has less than 11 patients or health care workers (or a combination of both) with coronavirus.

Tulare County added one more new facility with cases: Kaweah Delta Medical Center D/P Skilled Nursing Facility, which has less than 11 patients and workers each with coronavirus.

Facilities in the region with some of the largest increases in COVID-19 cases since last week:

Hacienda Post Acute, Inc. in Hanford: In addition to its new deaths, it has 28 more patients with coronavirus (49 total) and nine more health care workers with the virus (29 total).

Dycora – Fresno: In addition to its new deaths, it has 23 more patients with coronavirus (116 total). Its health care worker cases stayed the same (31 total).

Linwood Meadows Care Center in Visalia: Ten more workers with coronavirus (29 total) and two more patients (36 total).

Sierra Valley Rehabilitation Center in Porterville: Eight more patients with coronavirus (83 total) and one more worker (22 total). It’s one of four homes in Tulare County reporting fewer than 11 patient deaths.

In nearby Valley counties, there are two more facilities in Kern County with cases (12 total). There is still just one nursing home in Madera County with cases, and four homes in Merced County with cases.

Coronavirus testing practices have varied by facility. Some families and advocates have been pushing for more testing.

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.

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.

The state said its “key actions to address concerns” in Fresno County include:

“Continuing to provide Infection Preventionists expertise to assist SNFs (skilled nursing facilities) on infection control practices.”

“Ensure baseline testing of SNF residents and health care workers.”

“Ensure adequate and proper use of PPE.”

“Coordination and communication between CDCR, CDPH, and the Local Health Department to mitigate outbreaks at state prisons with employees who return to live in Fresno County.”

California skilled nursing facility deaths more than doubled in May and are now up to 2,131 patient deaths and 82 worker deaths in homes across California, as of data last updated Monday by the state.