Gilroy nursing home reports 12 coronavirus deaths, 75 infections

Gilroy nursing home reports 12 coronavirus deaths, 75 infections


Twelve residents at a Gilroy nursing home have died from COVID-19, and 75 have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials at the home said Thursday.

When the infections and deaths occurred at the Gilroy Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center is unclear. The state only reports the cumulative number of cases since the start of the pandemic and does not specify when those cases happened.

“On behalf of our entire community, we join these families in mourning the loss of their loved ones to this insidious virus,” center officials said in a statement that did not elaborate on how the virus entered the facility or how it spread.

Gilroy Healthcare and Covenant Care did not respond to interview requests Thursday.

The 134-bed Gilroy center began accepting COVID-19 patients from hospitals in August, treating 32 in a separate ward, according to a KTVU report. A family member of a deceased resident told The Chronicle she was notified of the transfers by a senior member of the facility’s staff via email.

However, center officials did not address the reported transfers Thursday, nor did they say how many residents had contracted the virus since August.

Of the 75 patients infected with the virus at the facility since the pandemic began, all 63 who survived have fully recovered, according to the written statement posted on the website of Covenant Care, the Southern California company that operates the Gilroy facility.

Santa Clara County data show that 18 positive cases among residents of the facility were reported in the past 28 days.

Fifty-four staff members at the facility also tested positive for coronavirus, 53 of whom have recovered, the center said.

Transferring COVID patients to nursing homes has been controversial, but sanctioned by the state.

According to Santa Clara County, unless there is a negative coronavirus test result, patients transferred from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility must be placed in an observation unit for 14 days, or until a negative coronavirus test result is received.

The center said it is doing routine testing of residents and staff and has created a special observation unit to take in admissions. There, people can be quarantined, tested and closely monitored for symptoms before being assigned a standard room, officials said.

Skilled nursing homes have been hotbeds for outbreaks. Since the start of the pandemic, 26,647 California nursing home residents have tested positive for the virus and 4,591 have died, according to state data as of Wednesday. That’s about 27% of all coronavirus deaths.

The Gilroy facility has been cited three times by state health regulators — in June, July and August — for failing to report COVID-19 survey data, which the state said “resulted in incomplete data reported to the (state) necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The failures had the potential to compromise residents’ health and safety, according to a citation issued by the state in August. The center was penalized $1,000.

The August inspection found that the facility failed to implement infection control policies — including not storing N95 masks properly, not training staff on the use of N95 masks and doing incomplete screenings of individuals entering the facility, according to a statement of deficiencies by the California Department of Public Health.

“These failures had the potential to transmit and spread COVID-19 infection to the residents, staff and visitors,” the statement said.

Some staff wore masks around their neck, on top of their head or around an arm, the inspection found. In July, one visitor did not have their temperature recorded, and another visitor did not answer one screening question.

Daisy Matus, 94, lived at the facility and died from COVID-19 in September, said her niece, Debbie Timms. News of a possible outbreak at the facility first came to her attention on the social media neighborhood website Nextdoor, Timms told The Chronicle.

She began tracking the number of infections and deaths at the nursing home on the Covenant Care website. When she saw the numbers spike, panic set in, she said.

On Sept. 19, Timms said she got a call from staff saying Matus was infected with the coronavirus. Timms said she made a flurry of calls to public officials and local leaders and tried frantically to transfer her aunt to another facility.

“I didn’t know who to go to. … I was just grasping at straws,” Timms said. “I was thinking, ‘I need to get my aunt out of there.’ ”

Timms said she had made accommodations to transfer Matus to a nursing home in Hollister (San Benito County). But she passed away Sept. 27.

Timms said she emailed the nursing home’s executive director asking if the facility took in sick patients from hospitals. “He emailed me back and said yes,” said Timms.

She told The Chronicle she was frustrated by the lack of communication from the nursing home.

“All I kept hearing, the few times I heard back, was, ‘We are following state and county protocol,’” she said.

Tatiana Sanchez and Catherine Ho are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: [email protected], [email protected] Twitter: @Cat_Ho, @TatianaYSanchez

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