EXCLUSIVE: Owner of Orinda nursing home speaks out amid deadly coronavirus outbreak at facility

Dan Noyes Image
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
EXCLUSIVE: Owner of East Bay nursing home speaks out amid deadly COVID-19 outbreak
The death toll has climbed yet again at Orinda Care Center. In her first interview, the facility's owner tells the ABC7 I-Team that a fourth patient who tested positive for coronavirus has died.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The death toll has climbed yet again at Orinda Care Center. In her first interview, the facility's owner tells the ABC7 I-Team that a fourth patient who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has died.

Crystal Solorzano tells us, "I have been in the healthcare business, more specifically skilled nursing since I was 15 years old."

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The 37-year-old owns 11 nursing homes up and down the state and has agreements to manage or consult at several more.

In her first interview since the coronavirus outbreak at Orinda Care Center, she broke the news that another patient has died.

Crystal Solorzano: "Sadly, we were told this morning that a fourth patient has passed away."

Dan Noyes: "I wonder what you say to the families of your patients who have become infected and especially to the families of those who have passed away?"

Crystal Solorzano: "Number one, our condolences. This is such a terrible, terrible virus that is going across the world right now."

In all, 28 patients have been infected; the survivors are being treated there at Orinda Care. Two dozen staff who have the virus were sent home to quarantine.

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Dan Noyes: "What was it about your facility that allowed the virus to spread so rapidly and thoroughly?"

Crystal Solorzano: "You know what I can tell you is that based on the way the virus spreads, which we do know it's changing minute by minute, when it gets into a building, it can spread very quickly because of the nature of the virus."

The experts tell ABC7 News that Infection control depends in large part on adequate staffing, yet Orinda Care Center was cited in August for failing to meet minimum staffing requirements on 16 of 24 days checked. At Orinda and her other homes, the state also found issues with lack of care and sexual assault of residents by staff. Solorzano had three license applications denied in December, because violations at her current properties posed "immediate jeopardy" for residents.

Dan Noyes: "What is going on? How are your clients in immediate jeopardy in those homes?"

Crystal Solorzano: "There's a lot of things that I would like to speak about. And when the time is right, Dan, you're going to be the first one to talk with me about them."

Dan Noyes: "Right now, would you put your own family member in your facilities?"

Crystal Solorzano: "Without a doubt.

Solorzano tells me her primary struggle now is finding enough masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment for her staff.

Crystal Solorzano: "To be honest, it doesn't matter if I have all the PPE in the world, if somebody else's nursing home doesn't and my nurse goes there, and might contract the virus and bring into into our building."

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She has been getting her other facilities to boost the spirits of staff in Orinda, who are battling that deadly outbreak.

Crystal Solorzano told her Orinda Care Cen ter nurses on Facetime, "I promise you, when we get through this, I'm going to take care of you all."

She told the I-Team, "I need them to know if a patient is diagnosed today, we expect them to show up. We expect them to dig their heels in and leave their fears at home and take care of those patients. It's okay to be scared and we're going to support each other through it."

By the way, Crystal Solorzano tells us she's filming a documentary, and she recorded our interview for it.

Take a look at for a look at more stories by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.

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