HAYWARD (CBS SF) — Alameda County officials on Tuesday confirmed three new deaths related to coronavirus outbreaks at two East Bay nursing homes in Hayward and Castro Valley.
The Public Information Manager with the Alameda County Public Health Department on Tuesday announced that there were two additional deaths at the Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward and one death at East Bay Post Acute in Castro Valley.
The death of the resident at East Bay Post Acute was the first death related to that coronavirus outbreak, according to authorities. A total of 45 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak was first announced last week, with 23 staff members and 22 residents falling ill with the virus.
Since the outbreak was first reported at Gateway last week, 40 residents and 25 staff members have tested positive for the virus. A total of 11 of those residents have died.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
An Union City councilman took to social media late Monday to reveal his grandmother was the 10th resident to die in a coronavirus outbreak at the Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward.
Jaime Patiño posted on Facebook that his Grandma Emma Patiño had died at local hospital.
“Tonight, at 8:28pm, my Grandma Emma Patiño’s journey on this Earth ended and she went to Heaven to be with the Lord,” he posted on Monday night. “No more suffering. No more worries. No more pain. I would like to thank all of you that have been so supportive and beautiful to us during this ordeal. It gave us the strength to pull through this.”
“My grandma was a beautiful, hard working woman who did not deserve to go through this. And we will hold those responsible for this accountable. But now is not the time for that. Now is the time to grieve, mourn and celebrate her life and all she gave us.”
Alameda and Contra Costa county health officials on Monday announced tougher standards for residential care and other licensed health care facilities, such as ordering them to screen all staff and visitors for signs of illness and to make them wear masks.
Meanwhile, another family of a Gateway Care resident who has died from the illness filed a complaint against the facility Monday and were demanding answers regarding the death of a loved one.
KPIX 5 first introduced viewers to the Akrie family on Friday, telling the tragic story of how Cosell Akrie passed away at the center earlier this month while undergoing physical therapy. Now, with the support of civil rights attorney John Burris, the Akries are asking specific questions about how Gateway is being run.
They also want to make sure someone is standing up for other patients who are still receiving treatment there.
“Why didn’t Gateway have masks? And if they did, why weren’t they using them?” asked Scott Akrie.
That was just one of many questions Scott and his mother Dianne Akrie have regarding how Gateway continues to operate. They are calling for an investigation and filed a complaint with the California Department of Public Health.
“Gateway continues to admit people and allow them to stay there. We demand that action is taken,” said Akrie family attorney Adante Pointer. “There should not be one more person endangered, one more person who has to lose their life, one more family that has to go days without getting a chance to communicate with or see their loved one, only to find out that they died from something that was wholly preventable.”
88-year-old Korean War veteran Costell Akrie was only supposed to stay at Gateway for physical therapy for a couple of weeks. Instead, he contracted the coronavirus during his stay and died on April 4th. None of his family members were able to speak to him the four days prior to his death.
“[He was] honest, compassionate, good and kind, and always fought for what was right for everyone, regardless of costs,” said Dianne. “And this is why we are here.”
Dianne said prior to March 14 — the day the facility was placed under lockdown, when she was still able to visit Costell — she never saw any staff members wear gloves or masks. Her attorney, John Burris, finds that incredibly worrisome for patients who are still getting treatment at Gateway.
“This is so disturbing. These kinds of numbers warrant and justify an investigation as to how this facility was operating. An investigation is warranted,” said Burris. “I will say that — if, in fact, it’s true that employees were requested and compelled to work even though they had symptoms of the virus — that’s criminal conduct.”
The Akries’ attorneys said they plan on sending a letter to the District Attorney’s Office soon in order to request a criminal investigation.
“[They] essentially handed those who are most vulnerable a death sentence,” said Pointer. “That’s criminal; not just an administrative investigation, but also criminal.”
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.
When we asked the spokesperson for Gateway for a response to this he referred us to the statement released Friday, in which he said Gateway was following all guidelines and recommendations.