COVID-91 – Complaint filed after So. Cal. nursing facility evacuated when staff failed to show up

Complaint filed with state over evacuated nursing facility yesterday

Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Riverside CA

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP News) — Riverside County officials have filed a complaint over conditions at a skilled nursing facility that was evacuated after staff failed to show up for work during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, has asked state health officials for an assessment of Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center before the facility reopens. He also asked in his April 20 letter for the state to determine whether workers acted ethically and professionally when they failed to show up for their shifts.

“We believe that substantial ongoing issues relate to their staffing and infection control plans, and during our inspection of the premises subsequent to my commandeer order identified structural issues,” Kaiser wrote.

The complaint comes after Kaiser ordered the evacuation of more than 80 patients from the facility on April 8 when insufficient staff showed up to care for them.

No one answered the phones at the facility on Tuesday. Messages sent to administrator Larry Mays weren’t immediately returned. On its website, the facility posted a message saying the evacuation was the right decision and it was following up with residents and their families to ensure a smooth transition.

Skilled nursing facilities have been hit hard by the coronavirus, and residents are considered especially vulnerable due to their age and other health conditions and close proximity to each other. The Southern California county has reported more than 650 virus cases among residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.

In his complaint, Kaiser wrote that Riverside County officials tested residents at Magnolia after learning of virus cases. Two days later, officials received a request for staff to cover three eight-hour shifts as the facility’s routinely scheduled workers weren’t showing up.

The county provided staffing for the next day and warned Mays that an emergency plan was required, he said. When the facility continued to have staffing problems, Kaiser ordered the evacuation.

The county took over the facility and evaluated whether it could be used to house virus patients, but found cleanliness issues and possible structural concerns with the flooring would have made doing so too expensive.

The California Department of Public Health declined to comment on the complaint, pending an investigation.