Coronavirus crisis at San Francisco's Laguna Honda nursing home

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Coronavirus crisis at SF Laguna Honda nursing home
Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco is going through a COVID-19 crisis, with a fast increasing number of staff and patients testing positive. ABC7's I-Team reports on the city's response on handling the outbreak at the center.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Laguna Honda, the massive nursing home owned by the city and county of San Francisco, is having a crisis. The number of residents and staff who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus is growing.

At the same time, Governor Newsom is moving forward with a plan to move COVID-19 patients into nursing homes. Nursing home advocates are very worried.

"The campus is not open to media right now," said a San Francisco sheriff's deputy.

Laguna Honda skilled nursing and rehabilitation center is on lockdown- closed to the media, to visitors and family, to any non-essential workers. The coronavirus crisis is growing there.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, "Nine employees of Laguna Honda Hospital have tested positive as well as two patients."

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Breed explained in a news conference that widespread testing is underway. The Centers for Disease Control and State Department of Public Health have sent infectious disease specialists to help stem the tide of infections among 750 residents.

"We know that long term facilities are most at risk for coronavirus outbreaks, therefore we expect the situation to unfortunately get worse," said Grant Colfax, San Francisco's Director of Public Health.

On the same day, Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters he's moving forward with a plan to find beds in skilled nursing facilities, like Laguna Honda, for the coming flood of coronavirus patients.

"We are also looking to get some 1,000 skilled nursing facility units up and running," said Newsom.

And that idea frightens advocates, including Mike Dark of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. He told the I-Team, "It's like sending a child killer into a kindergarten. You're sending the virus which is an extraordinarily lethal killer of older people and sick people into a place which has only those kids of people."

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The California Association of Long Term Care Medicine passed this resolution saying nursing homes should not be forced to accept COVID-19 patients.

And Louisiana Public Health, facing their own coronavirus crisis, is prohibiting hospital-to-nursing-home transfer of COVID-19 patients for at least 30 days.

Mike Dark asked, "How can it be that Louisiana is taking a more informed and progressive view of protecting health that California?"

Laguna Honda has just been slapped with a class action lawsuit that alleges abuse of patients. Attorneys say they could add to that complaint, depending on how officials handle the coronavirus crisis.

For a look at more stories and videos by the ABC7 News I-Team go here.