Dozens of residents have been evacuated from a Riverside nursing home where nearly 40 reported novel coronavirus cases have been reported after employees at the facility failed to show up to care for patients on two consecutive days, health officials said Wednesday.
A total of 83 residents are being moved from the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center to other health care locations across the county, according to officials from the Riverside County Public Health Department. A news release earlier in the day said 84 patients were being relocated.
As of 4:30 p.m., 55 residents had been evacuated to other facilities, and 28 others were waiting to be transported in the “ongoing” evacuation operation, according to Bruce Barton, director of the county’s Emergency Management Department.
Riverside University Health System and Kaiser Permanente sent 33 licensed vocational and registered nurses to the 90-bed facility, located at 8133 Magnolia Ave., on Tuesday after only one of 13 certified nursing assistants went to work, officials said. But on Wednesday morning, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, made the emergency decision to evacuate the facility and move patients after noting there was insufficient staff available.
County officials do not know exactly why the employees failed to show up for work at the nursing home, and said the total number of no-show employees is yet to be determined.
“We need to make sure that people remain as much as possible. We have a large vulnerable population at any of our long-term care facilities and we want to make sure those people are taken care of,” Kaiser said.
One patient in hospice died Wednesday morning. Kaiser said he was saddened by the turn of events at the nursing home.
“I am concerned this could rise to the level of abandonment, no matter how justified the reasoning may be,” Kaiser said. “The state licensing board will have to determine.”
The facility had 39 known COVID-19 cases, including 34 among its residents. No tests results are pending.
Health officials noted that the county prioritizes investigations into nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities because of the high risk of serious illness posed by outbreaks. Such facilities can be challenging due to residents’ ages and health conditions, and the close quarters they share, according to the county’s news release.
Of the residents transported, 28 patients were taken to the federal medical station established at the Indio Fairgrounds, 15 were taken to a nursing facility in Palm Desert, seven were transported to the Riverside University Health System Medical Center, and five were transported to local hospitals, officials said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The skilled nursing facilities that receive the influx of residents will undergo standard coronavirus containment measures, like preventing staff from working at other nursing homes, not admitting new patients and isolating those who are sick.
Additionally, all employees will have to use personal protective equipment.
Family members have been notified of the evacuation and can check on the status of their loved one by calling 951-358-5134.
On Wednesday, Riverside County had reported 1,179 cases of COVID-19, with 32 deaths and 74 recoveries.