REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — An outbreak of coronavirus at a nursing home in Redwood City has now led to the deaths of 10 residents, according to the facility’s director.
Gordon Manor Residential Care Home earlier this week reported two resident deaths at its facility on the 1600 block of Gordon St. in Redwood City, including former Stanford President Donald Kennedy.
Around 20 residents and seven staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Gordon Manor, according to facility director Alisa Mallari Tu, who told KPIX 5 she considers her patients are part of her family.
“It’s been a really hard two weeks, or three weeks, or month that we’ve been under lockdown, Mallari Tu told KPIX 5. “And my main concern is for my residents. And, you know, they’re my friends.”
Mallari Tu told Bay Area News Group the facility had about 65 residents living there before the virus struck.
San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy told KPIX 5 that county health officials were alerted to a COVID-19 staffing shortage at Gordon Manor on April 11 and the health department deployed a team of clinicians to the facility to support resident monitoring and care. The health department is also seeking more staff from the State of California to augment the current support at the facility, said Callagy.
Currently, everyone at Gordon Manor was being tested for the virus, Callagy said.
The county health officer has ordered that residential care facilities to expand their COVID-19 screening and monitoring, and the health department is deploying response teams to facilities across the county to assess and test residents and staff as necessary.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
In a statement to the San Mateo Daily Journal, Kennedy’s wife Robin said the 88-year-old former educator and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner took a turn for the worse over the weekend while battling the virus at the Gordon Manor facility.
“My husband was not alone in his room any time during the days of his illness,” she wrote. “When he took a turn for the worse on Saturday night, a family member was with him holding his hands, massaging his face, talking to him and reminding him how much he was loved by his family. Our (adult) children and I and two of our grandchildren were able to ‘be present’ on Sunday evening, via FaceTime.”
“It gave each of us a chance to say goodbye,” she added.
At least 539 people at long-term care facilities have died because of COVID-19 infections in California, according to data released by the state Friday. More than 5,400 residents and workers have contracted the virus in nursing homes and care facilities across the state.
Of the 41 COVID-19 deaths in San Mateo County, 32 fatalities have been in victims 70 years and older.
University of California Infectious Disease expert Dr. John Swartzberg told KPIX 5 that skilled nursing facilities are the ideal environment coronavirus to spread because they are places where people live interdependent upon other people to care for them.
“And the people living there are not healthy. They’re either very old or they’ve got chronic problems that put them at increased risk for serious complications and deaths, said Swartzberg. “So you’ve got this environment where people are in closed permanently or semi-permanently and you’ve got people caring for them … Lots of different interactions with people who have to of course be closer than six feet. So they’re at high risk from getting exposed. So you’ve got, it’s just like the kindling ready to explode in terms of a fire.“
The Bay Area has seen a number of coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes within recent days. Among the hardest hit nursing homes is Gateway Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward, where the coronavirus has killed at least 13 residents and infected more than 100 people as of last week.
Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick said her office had launched an investigation of Gateway, where employees alleged they were told to return to work even after contracting the virus.
Other Bay Area nursing homes with fatal coronavirus outbreaks include East Bay Post-Acute Healthcare Center in Castro Valley and the Orinda Care Center.
San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa said Friday he wants the state to release COVID-19 information from nursing homes more quickly.
“We know nursing homes are a hot spot. All over the country. I’m not going to call it a cover-up. This is new to all of us,” said Canepa. “However, the public deserves to know what the complete story is if we truly want to meet the moment and bend the curve. Lives are at risk.”
Supervisor Canepa says county officials need more information to make better decisions in real time.
“The state needs to take immediate action and release the information as soon as possible … Additionally, the health officers have a responsibility to act as well,” said Canepa. “We should test every individual showing any symptoms housed in nursing homes. The government should also invest in disinfecting these facilities. And assuring the people who care for them have the personal protective equipment needed to do the job.
“As we delay and don’t have data we cannot make the best decision in finding solutions. When lives at our stake having the best data will save lives.”
Some patients’ families have spoken in support of Gordon Manor.
Dennis, who declined to provide his last name, said his mother has lived at the facility for about two years and his aunt about four years.
“I’m concerned. I’m concerned. Hopefully, they’ll pull through, make it through, make it out of this,” he said.
He and another patient’s family member told KPIX 5 Gordon Manor workers are constantly updating them about their loved ones.
“Gordon Manor is a great place, great place. Just an unfortunate situation,” said Dennis.
At the front gate, someone left a large handwritten sign that read “We love GM.”