HAYWARD (KPIX 5) — A widow in Hayward is still coming to grips with the loss of her husband who died inside Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center from COVID-19 almost a week ago, calling her ordeal “a true nightmare.”
As of Friday morning, a total 65 people at the facility have tested positive for the virus there — including 40 residents — seven of whom have died. An additional 25 staff members have also tested positive for the coronavirus.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
When Dianne Akrie’s husband Cosell Akrie was transferred to Gateway for physical therapy last month, she was surprised to see that no one had gloves or masks. She says that should have tipped her off.
88-year-old Cosell moved into Gateway on March 5th for physical therapy. He needed help walking and getting his strength back after having a diabetic episode.
“The last time I spoke to him, he was fine,” explained Dianne. “He said, ‘I just want to get out of here and get some of your coffee, hon.’ That was one of the last conversations we had.”
Dianne said Cosell was only supposed to stay at Gateway a couple weeks, but he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 21st along with six other patients. Dianne told KPIX 5 that trying to get information from Gateway was — and continues to be — a constant battle.
“It’s a true nightmare. They would just put us on hold and they’d say, ‘We’ll transfer you to the nurses’ station. We’re short-handed and we’ll try to get in touch with the nurse.’ And we would wait and wait and wait,” remembered Dianne.
Cosell passed away on April 4th from the coronavirus. Dianne still doesn’t know the exact circumstances her husband died under. The last time she was able to speak to him was five days before he passed.
“This is inexcusable. It’s unforgivable. It’s unforgivable. And so help me, I’m 86 years old, but I’m going to fight with every part of my energy for this never to happen to anybody,” vowed Dianne.
Cosell and Dianne would have been married for 65 years on May 1st.
A California Department of Public Health (CDPH) enforcement action dashboard shows East Bay Post-Acute last month was fined $75,000 for a class AA citation, a violation that CDPH has “determined to have been a direct proximate cause of death of a patient or resident of a long term care facility.” In January 2019, Gateway was fined $1,000 for a Class B violation, which has a direct or immediate relationship to patient health, safety, or security. A similar fine was issued to Gateway in 2016.
Anthony and Prema Thekkek, owners of Gateway have reportedly been cited for violations at other skilled nursing facilities they owned across the Bay Area, including abuse and lack of infection control.
As of late Friday morning, Gateway representatives continue to ignore KPIX 5’s requests for a response.