COVID-19 testing didn't happen fast enough at Gordon Manor, CDC guidelines 'not good enough,' doctor says

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- The ABC7 I-Team is looking into testing concerns after one of the deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 was reported at Gordon Manor, a highly-rated assisted living facility in Redwood City.

A doctor with several patients who died at the facility spoke exclusively to the I-Team, concerned testing at the facility didn't happen quickly enough.

"When you find one case...that's when you need to test the entire facility, including all residents, all staff," said Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk, a geriatrician and medical director of Silverado and Kensington.

RELATED: 10 residents die at Redwood City nursing home as result of COVID-19

"It's important because when there's one case, there are more asymptomatic cases. This is not the flu."

One of Landsverk's patients was Irene Panagoulias.

ABC7's Stephanie Sierra spoke with her daughter, Maritsa.

"I'm sad that my mom passed, terribly devastated, but I feel very blessed she was in the best possible care," said Maritsa Chew. "They treated her like family, they're an amazing group of people."

At age 85, Irene died from COVID-19 after living at Gordon Manor for the past year.

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Dr. Landsverk said a nurse with the San Mateo County Health Department assured her "they were on top of testing" by following CDC guidelines shortly after Irene's diagnosis.

Landsverk was told by the nurse that 14 of the facility's residents were identified as symptomatic and tested that previous week.

"They were only testing residents who had symptoms," said Dr. Landsverk. "That's not good enough."

According to Gordon Manor's facility director, San Mateo County Health provided clinicians to begin testing residents and staff shortly after the facility reported a staffing shortage on April 11.

Dr. Landsverk advised the nurse that she was concerned with any diagnosis of COVID-19, all staff and residents need to be tested immediately, not just those who are symptomatic per CDC guidelines.

"It's easy to blame the facility, I do not blame Gordon Manor, I blame the federal government," Landsverk said. "I blame them that we don't have enough testing equipment, not the proper swabs and reagents."

RELATED: 'I'm in fear for my life,' says Bay Area nursing home patient who's concerned about re-exposure to COVID-19

The ABC7 I-Team reached out to the facility director who confirmed Monday all staff and residents have been tested.

According to the San Mateo County Health Department re-testing will happen on an as needed basis.

But, Dr. Landsverk says that's unacceptable, especially in vulnerable populations like Gordon Manor, which provides specialized care for people suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.

"These folks can't really isolate in their room too much, and they don't know not to touch things," she said.

A heartbreaking reality for families now coping with loss. But, in Maritsa's case she's grateful for the staff who cared for mom, Irene.

"These people are the miracle workers, they are the ones on the front line, I'm sad that my mom passed... but I feel very blessed she was in the best possible care."

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