EXCLUSIVE: Kaiser wants to send 89-year-old COVID-19 patient back to Hayward nursing home with coronavirus outbreak

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By Dan Noyes ABC 7 NEWS, April 14, 2020

Kaiser Permanente wants to send 89-year-old coronavirus patient Evelyn Tomei back to the Hayward nursing home where she contracted it, even though the facility is the center of a COVID-19 outbreak.

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) — Kaiser Permanente wants to send 89-year-old novel coronavirus patient Evelyn Tomei back to the nursing home where she contracted it. She is terrified. Her family is terrified, and they asked the I-Team’s Chief Investigative Reporter Dan Noyes to investigate.

“I don’t want to die,” said Tomei, who is a two-time cancer survivor who is currently battling bronchitis and COVID-19, which she contracted at Gateway Care and Rehabilitation in Hayward.

Recently, the eleventh resident who contracted COVID-19 at Gateway passed away. At least 66 patients and staff have been infected there.

A nurse manager at Gateway Care, who didn’t want to give his name, said the staff at the rehabilitation center is at wits end, working very long hours.

“We cannot control what is happening out in the world,” they said. “This is a pandemic that’s affecting the world. Please, express that, not a Gateway issue.”

Now at Kaiser Fremont, doctors say Tomei has responded to hydroxychloroquine treatments, so they want to send her back to Gateway.

Kaiser said in an emailed statement, “Mrs. Tomei no longer needs acute care and is ready to be discharged. It is important to understand that being a COVID-positive patient, living with other patients with the virus does not pose an increased risk to a patient’s health and safety.”

“That’s nuts,” Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association Long Term Care Medicine said. “Sending someone back who has the virus, who is still possibly fighting the virus, only is going to add stress to an already stressed facility.”

Dr. Wasserman says the risk is possibly creating another Kirkland, the nursing home in Washington State that’s seen more than 120 cases and at least 37 deaths.

The ordeal is weighing heavily on Mrs. Tomei’s son and daughter-in-law.

“I was frantic, that’s when I called you, I did not know what to do, what to think, I didn’t know where to go with it, all I knew was, oh my God,” Debra Tomei said.

Gary Tomei said, “You put her back into a place that has COVID already, who’s to say if they haven’t found out anything yet, if she would get it again?”

Evelyn Tomei tells Noyes that even some of Kaiser’s own staff apparently disagree with the doctor’s decision.

“I had a nurse this morning tell me, ‘Are you from over there (Gateway)?’ I said, ‘Yeah, but I’m not going back,'” Evelyn said. “She said, ‘Don’t, you fight it. Don’t go back there.’ Now a nurse to tell me that, that’s something.”

Kaiser also said they’re offering to discharge Tomei home with support, but her children say it’s too much. Evelyn needs 24-hour care and is bedridden.