Coronavirus outbreak: Families threaten legal action after loved ones die of COVID-19 at Hayward nursing home

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- An East Bay family wants an investigation and possible criminal charges leveled against a Hayward skilled nursing facility that has seen more than 60 cases of the novel coronavirus and at least nine deaths.

It's been just nine days since Dianne Akrie lost the love of her life, her husband of nearly seven decades.

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Costell Akrie was one of at least nine patients at Hayward's Gateway Care and Rehabilitation center to die of COVID-19.

"I never got to say goodbye to my husband of 65 years or to tell him I loved him," said Akrie during a Zoom press conference with her attorney John Burris, who is demanding an investigation and possible criminal charges against the owners of Gateway.

"At no time while visiting Gateway did we ever see staff wearing masks before or after the outbreak," said Dianne Akrie. "And for the last four days of his life, despite multiple calls per day, we were unable to speak to him or access his welfare."

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The 87-year-old Korean War veteran was in Gateway for less than a month. He was moved there from a Kaiser Hospital for rehabilitation related to his diabetes. He died on April 4. Akrie's family and attorneys claim staff did not have proper protective gear and some were ordered to work even after testing positive for coronavirus.

"If it's true that employees were requested and compelled to work even if they had symptoms of the virus," said Burris, "and went to work notwithstanding that, and/or if they operated without the normal precautions of gloves and mask, that's criminal conduct."

In the meantime, Union City Councilman Jaime Patino sadly informed ABC7News, his 84-year-old grandmother, long time Gateway resident Emma Patino is now in dire condition at a San Leandro Kaiser hospital, after testing positive for COVID19.

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"They arranged to have a conference call so we could say our goodbyes to her," said Patino. "If there had been transparency, we could've addressed her health concerns a lot sooner and maybe we wouldn't be in this predicament right now."

ABC7News has tried repeatedly to reach the owners of the Gateway care center with no response.

As of Monday afternoon, Alameda County Public Health reports there have been 66 cases of COVID19 at Gateway. Nine patients have died and 42 still remain inside the facility.

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