By Mj Johnson, San Francisco Examiner, Apr. 26, 2020
Four people have died and 67 residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Central Gardens Convalescent Hospital, a private assisted living facility in the Western Addition.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health confirmed Friday the four deaths due to coronavirus symptoms as well as 39 residents and 28 staff who tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility with just 92 certified beds on Ellis Street. The department was first notified of the initial cases on March 30.
“We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the spread of the virus both at this facility and at facilities across the city,” said SFDPH Director Dr. Grant Colfax in a press briefing last week.
The patients who have tested positive are remaining at the facility and receiving care in an isolated unit under infection control protocols, according to facility spokesperson Dan Kramer. Most of those who tested positive show no symptoms, and a few show mild to moderate symptoms, Kramer said.
Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents District 5 where the facility is located, said in a statement he is demanding more information from the DPH and Central Gardens about the outbreak.
“We are very concerned with reports that safety protocols at Central Gardens were not being diligently followed and we do not know at this time whether that may have been a cause of this outbreak,” Preston said. “We are also concerned with media reports that the facility informed DPH of a COVID positive test result on March 30, yet universal testing was not conducted.”
Kramer said the facility is compiling with all recommendations from the state and Centers for Disease Control by restricting visits to our facility, screening employees and residents for symptoms and high temperatures, isolating persons who show signs or symptoms, and limiting group activities.
There are 1,224 skilled nursing facilities in California, and of them, 254 have reported cases of COVID-19, according to a list published by the California Department of Public Health. The state has requested daily reporting of coronavirus positive tests and suspected cases from skilled nursing facilities since April 19. Central Gardens is one of the facilities with the highest number of cases in one location.
Across the Bay, the Alameda County district attorney’s office has launched a criminal investigation into Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center, another assisted living facility in Hayward with an outbreak that left 13 dead and another 54 infected. There were reports the facility was severely understaffed and pressuring symptomatic employees to continue to work.
On April 9 a coalition of nursing home health care providers wrote Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for liability protection from administrative, criminal and civil liability in events that lead up to and occur during the COVID-19 crisis. Nursing home and assisted care facility advocates are pushing back against any order that would give care facilities immunity.
Mike Dark, staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform based in San Francisco, during a press conference said this type of order would immunize reckless and dangerous conduct by for-profit facilities.
“We’re concerned about the fact that these operators that have had a decades long track record of infection control, staffing violations and abuses, will now under the cover of the Covid epidemic will be excused for the conduct that they should still be liable for,” Dark said.