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Santa Cruz Nursing homes fight to keep COVID-19 out of their facilities

Nursing homes attempt to stop outbreaks at their facilities

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) As of Friday, there have been no residents in Santa Cruz county nursing facilities to test positive for COVID-19.

There has been protocol for weeks to limit who comes in and out of the facilities.

“We’re dealing with something we really don’t know how to identify until it's too late,” Sunshine Villa executive director Jim Mckie said.

Before any staff steps into Sunshine Villa, their temperature is checked and they’re screened.

Across the country more than 35,000 seniors and staff at nursing homes and long term care facilities have tested positive, according to a CBS report. More than 6,500 have died.

The closest outbreak is in the Bay Area where a Hayward nursing home has reported at least 13 deaths.

Sunshine Villa in Santa Cruz's owner lives in the Seattle area and watched closely as cases in senior facilities shot up.

“Our home office started developing protocols back in February,” Mckie said.

All residents are now confined to their rooms, and every meal is brought to them. Since they can’t see family, the facility is providing IPads for their residents to Facetime.

“If we had an outbreak in one of our congregate living settings, for example a skilled nursing facility, it could spread very quickly within that facility,” Santa Cruz county health officer Dr. Gail Newel said.

An outbreak is defined as just two or more cases in a facility.

The counties communicable disease team monitors nursing facilities and provides protective equipment when necessary.

“They work with them already managing outbreaks of things like flu, shigella and tuberculosis,” Newel said.

One medical care worker, at an unnamed nursing facility, tested positive for coronavirus, but it did not lead to any other cases at the facility.

Sunshine Villa hopes to keep their count at zero.

“If someone has gotten a cold or have been a little under the weather, which we’ve had a couple of those, our staff gown up like they’re in a hospital: eye goggles, face masks gowns,” Mckie said.

There are no reported COVID-19 cases inside any congregate living situations, including nursing homes, homeless shelter or in the jail in Santa Cruz county.

Coronavirus / Health / Santa Cruz / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories
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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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