Category Archives: Nursing homes

16 dead at Vallejo Nursing Home – petition asks Governor to shut it down

Victim’s Family Voices Concerns After Vallejo Nursing Home COVID-19 Outbreak Claims 16 Lives

CBS SF Bay Area KPIX5, by Joe Vazquez, May 29, 2020

VALLEJO (CBS SF) — A COVID-19 outbreak at The Windsor Vallejo Care Center has claimed 16 lives and left 112 residents infected with the virus, according to Solano County health officials.

On Thursday, a family of one of the residents who died was voicing concerns about the conditions that led to the outbreak. Shawnie Bennett and some other victims’ family members have started a petition on, asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to shut the facility down.

“I believe my brother’s death could have been prevented had they taken proper precautions,” Bennett said.

William Bennett III had been in the facility since last year after suffering a stroke. The coronavirus killed the 31-year-old on May 13th.

“The patient that was in his room who was coughing didn’t have on a mask,” Shawnie Bennett said. “Nor was my brother offered a mask. There are things that they could have done to prevent the death.”

California Health officials have just issued brand new guidelines, saying every nursing home has to test every staff member and every patient at least once a week.

The Solano Public Health department said, in fact, that is exactly what they are doing now at Windsor.

Also, Solano officials said they were keeping covid-positive residents separated from those testing negative. Staffers are being isolated as well, and contact tracing is being done to try to curb the spread of the virus.

KPIX 5 reached out to Josh Sable, an attorney for Windsor, who emailed back that no one would be available for an interview.

UPDATE: 13 dead, 132 infected at Windsor Vallejo Nursing Home

Coronavirus: Thirteen dead at Windsor Vallejo Care Center

More protests planned at Vallejo care center
Protesters picket in front of the Windsor Care Facility in Vallejo where 13 people have died and at least 130 have been infected with COVID-19. (Chris Riley—Times-Herald)
Vallejo Times-Herald, by John Glidden, May 20, 2020

The health emergency at Windsor Vallejo Care Center worsened Wednesday after Solano County officials confirmed two more people have died after being infected with COVID-19 at the skilled nursing facility, bringing the total number of deaths at the facility to 13.

Jayleen Richards, Solano County public health administrator, said 10 of the infected individuals were in hospice care at the time of their deaths. She said 99 residents, and 33 staff members have been infected with COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Prior to release of the new numbers Wednesday, Maria Grimaldo led a protest of about a dozen people outside the facility, demanding it take better care of its residents.

“Light needed to be shined on Windsor’s practices pre-COVID, but now it’s more of a driving force for me,” she said.

Grimaldo’s 86-year-old grandmother, who is a resident at Windsor, has tested positive for COVID-19.

“My grandma would be left in her own feces, we would have to fight them just to give her a blanket. Sometimes she wouldn’t get dinner until 8 p.m. at night,” Grimaldo said.

She said her grandmother is receiving more attention and care after being moved to the part of the building reserved for COVID-19 positive residents.

“She shouldn’t have to get COVID-19 to receive better care,” Grimaldo added.

Grimaldo blamed the staff at Windsor for infecting her grandmother with COVID-19.

“How did she get it? She’s been in a segregated part of the building since the third week in April,” Grimaldo said.

When asked, Grimaldo believes the problems at the facility start at the management level, which then trickles down to the staff who “lack bedside manner.”

“Prison inmates get treated better,” Grimaldo said.

Grimaldo said she will continue to protest outside the facility, which is located at 2200 Tuolumne St., every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Attempts to reach Windsor staff were unsuccessful.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said the city has no jurisdiction over the skilled nursing facility. However, he did say the city is working with the county to monitor the situation.

Due to the loss of so many employees to COVID-19, Kaiser Permanente has begun providing care for Windsor residents, according to a joint statement from Senior Vice President/Area Manager Nor Jemjemian, and Chris Walker, physician-in-chief for Kaiser Permanente’s Napa Solano Area

“The health and safety of our patients, staff, and the community is our priority. We recognize that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and we are doing everything we can to keep our members, staff and communities as safe as possible,” they said. “We are deeply grateful to our medical teams, staff, and employees who are expertly and compassionately caring for and protecting our members, patients, communities, and each other.”

It wasn’t immediately known what type of staffing is assisting at Windsor.

County officials began testing residents and health care workers in late April after the facility reported nearly a dozen residents had been infected with Coronavirus. That initial number doubled ballooned to 76 residents infected in early May. At that time, there weren’t any reported deaths.

Windsor Vallejo nursing home – 11 dead, 127 infected with COVID-19

Coronavirus outbreak worsens at Vallejo nursing facility

KRON4 News, by Maureen Kelly, May 15, 2020

VALLEJO, Calif. (KRON) — A coronavirus outbreak at an North Bay nursing facility is worsening.

Eleven patients are now dead at the Windsor Vallejo Care Center.

In total, 127 people, mostly residents of the nursing home, have been infected in the last two weeks.

“His suffering is over, his suffering is over.”

That is the aunt of William Bennett III who died Wednesday night at the Sutter Solano hospital. The 31-year-old stroke victim was the 11th resident of the Windsor Vallejo Care Center to die due to COVID-19 so far.

96 residents and 31 staff members there have tested positive for the virus.

Bennett’s aunt says she’s been trying to move the father of two out of the care center even before the virus took hold because of the conditions there.

“Personally I would like Windsor to be shut down,” she said. “That’s my prayer. As you walk up and down the hallways, the patients are sitting outside looking so nasty and so somber like it smelled like I can’t even explain to you.”

It’s a skilled nursing home that was already having problems. An April inspection by the department of health and human services found 23 health citations and gave it a rating of much below average.

“I’m praying she is still negative.”

That’s the granddaughter of Maria Goza, an 86-year-old resident of the nursing home who was tested again for the virus Thursday.

Her family says the Alzheimer’s patient has been neglected and mistreated there — and fear the care center has been understaffed and overwhelmed as COVID-19 has taken hold.

“Windsor needs to dig a little deeper into their pockets and bring in relief for these poor nursing staff,” she said. “I don’t believe that’s happening and I base that on my grandma being left in a soiled diaper for four hours.”

A statement from the Windsor Vallejo Care Center says they can’t address complaints made by residents or their families because of privacy concerns, but they say they are being hyper vigilant in taking every recommended safety measure to minimize the continued spread of the virus.

In addition to the Solano County Public Health having staff on the ground there, the state has also sent an infection control strike team to the care center to help assess for exposures and monitor the outbreak.

They’re trapped, and the killer virus knows where to find them in California

Los Angeles Times reports on huge numbers in our nursing homes and prisons

Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-San Pedro) speaks during a news conference after touring the federal penitentiary at Terminal Island to inquire about the high number of COVID-19 cases among inmates and prison staff. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times, by Steve Lopez, May 13 2020

There are two places in California where, as the pandemic rages, you do not want to be.

Prisons and elder care facilities.

An astounding 49% of all COVID-19 deaths in California were linked to elder care facilities as of last week, with more than 1,200 cases, along with hundreds more infected patients and employees.

Meanwhile, 886 inmates at the federal prison in Lompoc (almost 70%) have been infected with the virus; 396 infections, including five deaths, were reported at the state prison in Chino; and there have been 709 infections and seven deaths at Terminal Island federal pen in San Pedro.

Family members protested at the San Pedro facility last week and Congresswoman Nanette Barragán, who represents the area, told the Times’ Richard Winton she felt the warden was not doing enough to protect inmates with medical conditions. She said she reported the situation to Trump administration health official Dr. Anthony Fauci, who “seemed a little alarmed.”

I think he might want to be a lot alarmed.

Tiffani Fortney’s father was at Terminal Island serving a 26-month sentence for tax-related crimes, and she was biting her nails at her home in Arizona. Her dad had diabetes and heart issues that made him a sitting duck in the tight confines of a communal setting.

“It was hell,” she said about trying to get information on her father’s welfare. “I talked to him on Easter and he told me one person there had the virus and they were separating everybody.… He told me he’d call in a few days and he never did.”

Unbeknown to Fortney, her father, 70-year-old Scott Douglas Cutting of Apple Valley, got sick. Very sick. And Fortney said she did not learn until the end of last month that her father had been hospitalized in mid-April with COVID-19 symptoms.

“I tried calling the prison but couldn’t get answers. I left a message sometimes, but other times I couldn’t even get to the message thing,” she said.

On May 1, the federal public defender’s office filed an emergency application for the release of medical records and for prison compliance with family notification policies. According to the filing, Fortney’s brother Scott was informed on April 29 that their father had been hospitalized and intubated. The next day, Fortney got a call from a prison staff member saying her father was “not doing well.”

Fortney told me she and her brother were able to speak to him by phone and say goodbye, thanks to the “amazing staff” at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance. On Saturday, May 9, Cutting became the seventh inmate to die of COVID-19 while serving time at the aptly named Terminal Island.

“No one deserves to die like that,” Fortney said. “I don’t care if they’re criminals or not.”

A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons declined my request for an interview, but sent a long list of steps taken since the pandemic began.

“We are deeply concerned for the health and welfare of those inmates who are entrusted to our care, and for our staff, their families, and the communities we live and work in,” said the spokesperson, adding that the bureau is doing “everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our facilities.”

Across the country, thousands of prisoners have been released early to stem the spread of the virus to inmates and jail staff, and in L.A. County some jail inmates are even suspected of trying to infect themselves with the virus thinking that might get them sprung early.

Civil rights attorneys and relatives of inmates have argued for broader release of elderly or sick inmates, and for more testing and protective measures. But despite support from public health experts, that’s not an easily winnable argument given resistance from top federal officials, says Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel.

“The responsibility is mistakenly placed on the officials who run these facilities, but it’s the government that is defending” the status quo, said Rosenbaum. “It is punitive and it is a means of saying these are subhuman individuals and what happens to them and their communities does not matter.”

That same societal judgment has been made about those living in some elder care facilities, which is one reason they’ve become such deathtraps.

“People are really shocked that this has happened, but I’m not surprised,” said Charlene Harrington, 78, an emeritus UC San Francisco nursing professor who has spent decades fighting for stricter nursing home regulations and more oversight. “Even before the virus hit, three-fourths of nursing homes didn’t have adequate staffing and did not meet what we would consider to be reasonable standards.”

You’d think that with the virus being particularly deadly for older people, Harrington said, nursing facilities would have gotten a higher priority when it came to testing and doling out protective equipment for staff.

Part of the problem, she says, is a shift in the nursing home industry as independently owned mom and pop operations have given way to big chains and private equity investors.

“They squeeze out every cent that they can,” Harrington said, paying “the lowest possible wages,” often to minorities and immigrants, usually with no healthcare insurance and no sick leave. That raises the possibility of employees reporting to work when they’re sick, or getting sick at work and then infecting friends and relatives outside the facility.

So why can’t a civilized society do a more humane job of caring for grandma and grandpa?

As we’ve been reminded in recent weeks, some people seem to think old folks — especially those already warehoused —are expendable. But the more accurate answer involves money and politics.

The nursing homes wield tremendous influence over policymakers. And even though taxpayers cover the majority of the cost of care through Medicare and Medicaid, Harrington said, “nursing homes have gotten away with minimal enforcement for over 20 or 30 years, so they were ripe for disaster.”

And Harrington said that just as with the other COVID-19 hot-spots — jails and prisons — we can’t be entirely sure what’s going on behind closed doors. For nursing homes, she said, there’s an incentive for under-playing the number of cases to families that are now barred from visiting facilities.

In fact, one source directed me to discrepancies between what one L.A. County nursing facility has acknowledged about COVID-19 infections and deaths among patients and staff, and the much larger numbers listed on the L.A. County Health Department website.

This virus doesn’t play fair. It goes after the trapped, the poor and the elderly, and the mounting list of casualties is unacceptable.

If you know an inmate or prison staffer who got sick or died, or if you know an elder care facility patient or employee who got sick or died, I’d like to hear your story.