TURLOCK, Calif — A nursing home in Turlock has become the most recent in a string of nursing homes and senior facilities in California to experience an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center announced on Monday that two of its patients have died from complications due to COVID-19. The two deaths are just a couple of the 51 confirmed cases of the virus at the facility.
Officials with the facility say one of the residents died Monday, while the other died last week.
"On behalf of the entire team at Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, we mourn with these families as they deal with the loss of their loved ones," the facility said in a statement.
Maria Lopez was 82 years old when she died from COVID-19, according to her granddaughter, Nonnette Garcia, who spoke with ABC10 on Monday. Lopez was tested positive for the virus last week, and was transferred from Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation to Emmanuel Hospital, which sits directly across the street.
Garcia said her grandmother's health worsened, and not long after being transferred, she developed pneumonia and was placed on a ventilator.
"I was praying she didn't have it," Garcia said. "When they told me [she did], everything just shut down."
The facility saw its confirmed cases increase from six to 51 in a matter of days. Now, the concern is that more than 200 other people the facility could also be infected.
At least 34 residents and 17 staff members have tested positive as of Monday morning. All residents and employees have been tested for the virus and their family members have been notified, the facility said.
While 124 residents have been tested, only 10 have tested negative and 87 tests results are still pending. Additionally, of the 155 staff members who have been tested, 23 have tested negative, and 115 test results are pending.
Garcia said it the facility had acted sooner, her grandmother could still be alive.
"Obviously, there were signs showing that she was having problems before then," Garcia said. "If her breathing was off they should have took her away before that, but they didn't."
Garcia said that it was only a week ago when she went to drop off paperwork at the facility and observed that the worker with whom she had contact was not wearing a mask.
Today, an ABC10 crew witnessed several workers entering the facility wearing masks.
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The center said it is designating a wing of the facility to residents who have tested positive and another wing for residents who tested negative in an effort to mitigate the COVID-19 spread.
The center also announced all staff and essential medical personnel are being screened before they're allowed inside the building and are required to wear personal protective equipment.
Additionally, admissions and discharges have been suspended for 14 days
"We are following all guidance set forth for privacy, patient care, employee safety and efforts to help limit the spread of COVID-19, as provided by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),” the a statement on the Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center website says.
The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services says the facility has reached out to them in need of Personal Protective Equipment, like masks.
"The two things that they did ask for was one, personal protective equipment," said Stanislaus County OES spokesman Raj Singh. "They needed some more of those for the staff and for their patients. We were able to fill that need with the supplies we had here on hand at the county."
Numerous calls to the Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and its parent company, Covenant Care, were not returned.
The outbreak at the Turlock facility came just days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom reminded Californians that fighting the virus in nursing homes is one of his top priorities.
“We are doing daily check-in calls, it's not an exaggeration, to all 1,224 skilled nursing facilities and we are checking in on staff, checking in on the number of positive patients and on the extent possible these deaths," he said at a recent coronavirus briefing.
New data released by the state Department of Public Health shows more than 5,000 people connected to California nursing homes have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The report was updated Friday and shows there have been almost 500 coronavirus related deaths in connection with skilled nursing facilities in California. Nursing home cases made up more than 13% of cases in the state.
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