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State Releases List Of Nursing Homes With Coronavirus Cases

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is seen in yellow, emerging from cells (...

Credit: National Institutes of Health

Above: The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is seen in yellow, emerging from cells (in blue and pink) cultured in the lab. This image is from a scanning electron microscope.

Following weeks of pressure from families, doctors and advocates, the California Department of Public Health has published a partial list of skilled nursing facilities statewide that have reported coronavirus cases.

The list shows that 261 of the state’s 1,224 nursing homes have reported COVID-19 cases as of April 17. Among them are 11 nursing homes in San Diego County.

Country Hills Post Acute in El Cajon appears to be the hardest hit in the county. It reported 19 residents and less than 11 employees infected with the virus.

Another El Cajon facility, The Bradley Court, had the second-highest county. It reported 12 cases among residents and less than 11 among workers.

KPBS reached out to both facilities. A staffer at Country Hills Post Acute who answered the phone would not release the name of the facility’s top administrator, and the Bradley Court’s management was unavailable for comment.

The state acknowledges that the list is not a complete accounting of cases, describing it as a “point-in-time snapshot” of cases reported by 86% of California’s skilled nursing facilities.

Also, because it just includes skilled nursing homes, the list does not provide a full picture of cases in senior care facilities. It does not include assisted living facilities and other congregate care homes.

RELATED: Nursing Home Worker Details The Harsh Realities Inside Pacific Beach Facility

Furthermore, the state is relying on self reporting from skilled nursing homes because it stopped on-site inspections in response to the pandemic.

KPBS previously confirmed that assisted living facilities Stellar Care, La Vida Real and Oakmont of Pacific Beach all have reported COVID-19 cases.

San Diego County officials have confirmed nearly 200 cases and more than 20 deaths in senior care facilities countywide. But they have refused to provide the names of facilities with cases.

The state department of health released the tally of cases at nursing homes after weeks of complaints from families, doctors and advocates.

They argued keeping the information secret barred loved ones from deciding whether to move a resident to protect them from contracting the virus and prevented an infected facility from getting additional help and supplies.

Advocates for people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities say the list is a good start, but doesn’t fully describe the extent to which the coronavirus is ravaging elder care homes.

RELATED: Advocates Say Officials Should Release Names Of Nursing Homes With Coronavirus Outbreaks

“The information finally released by health authorities is shocking, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mike Dark, a lawyer with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “With state regulators avoiding even entering these facilities, the real toll of the sick and the dying is likely to be far higher.”

Coronavirus has swept through both nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country. An estimated 7,000 people have died from COVID-19 at nursing homes, according to reporting by The New York Times.

The age and frailty of the residents, the necessity of caregivers working in close proximity to the residents and the fact that these facilities often house people in cramped spaces have created a perfect breeding ground for the virus.

COVID-19 has been made even more deadly by poor sanitary practices at the homes, according to a recent federal survey.

The survey, conducted last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found that 36 percent of the facilities inspected nationwide didn’t follow proper hand washing rules. And a quarter of nursing homes failed to show they knew how to use personal protective equipment, viewed as vital in stemming infections.

Listen to this story by Amita Sharma.

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Photo of Amita Sharma

Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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