A Riverside, California, nursing home where 50 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), was forced to evacuate 83 of its residents after employees, either sick or fearing for their own safety, refused to show up for work for a second day in a row.
Of the 50 who tested positive, 34 were residents and 16 were staff. Several others have been tested and results are pending.
Only one out of 13 certified nursing assistants scheduled to work at Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center April 7 showed up to work at the 90-bed facility. Riverside University Health System and Kaiser Permanente sent 33 nurses to the long-term care facility to assist. But when staff was a no-show on the following day, Magnolia had little choice but to move the residents. More than 50 ambulances arrived to transport residents to other health care facilities in the county.
“I am concerned this could rise to the level of abandonment, no matter how justified the reasoning might be,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, during a news conference. “The state licensing board will have to determine.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges to nursing homes across the country, with the virus spreading like wildfire among vulnerable residents at higher risk of developing the more severe and life-threatening type of the virus.
A Seattle-area nursing home became the early epicenter of the U.S. outbreak where at least 37 residents died from the virus after it spread through the home in early March. The facility has since been hit with more than $600,000 in fines and other sanctions by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Similar outbreaks in two nursing homes – one in Virginia and one in New Jersey — have killed at least 43 residents since mid-March. Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County, Virginia, reported its 33rd death April 8. More than four dozen current residents are showing signs of coronavirus, and at least 25 workers have tested positive.
At New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus, the virus has killed at least 10 residents and is suspected in the deaths of another 27 residents who died over the past two weeks. At least 70 residents are sick, and 17 staff members have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Twenty others are awaiting their test results.
Alyssa Baskam, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, represents individuals who have been injured or the families of those who have died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or other inpatient facility abuse or neglect. She is staying informed about how COVID-19 is impacting nursing homes nationwide. It is a most challenging and unusual situation for patients and caregivers, with most facilities locked down and visitors prohibited.