Families, industry group say L.A. County is moving too slowly to protect nursing homes from COVID-19

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Los Angeles County has yet to reach its scaled-back goal on coronavirus testing at nursing homes ravaged by the pandemic, drawing criticism from residents’ families and the leader of a statewide industry organization.

COVID-19 has infected more than 6,500 residents at L.A. County nursing homes, resulting in 1,336 deaths — nearly half of all virus-related fatalities countywide, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.

Previously, health officials vowed to swiftly test all residents and staff at the county’s 315 nursing homes. But that plan was revised last month, with the public health department saying it would test only a portion of residents in homes without an outbreak in an effort to focus on those with more infections.

As of Wednesday, 272 skilled-nursing facilities had tested all residents and staff, and the other 43 had scheduled or were in the process of conducting testing, according to Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.

Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, said the gives the county’s efforts “a D- at the best.”

“It’s a day late and a dollar short. To be here, in the middle of June, and we haven’t tested all the nursing homes to me is incompetency,” said Wasserman, who’s organization represents doctors, nurses and other professionals working in long-term care.

Patricia Ann Jordan, whose 93-year-old mother Jimmie lives at Beverly West Healthcare in Mid-Wilshire, said she agrees virus screenings weren’t conducted early or quickly enough.

“Testing didn’t begin at my mother’s facility until May 20. That’s almost the end of May,” she said. “Not only was it unacceptable, it was unbelievable.”

An executive at Beverly West Healthcare told KTLA they still haven’t received most of the results from the tests administered three weeks ago. They also said that around that same time in May, the facility was struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak that has now infected 26 residents and 23 staff members. Twelve of them have died.

The facility said it’s been following all public health guidelines, and has been closed to visitors since March 12. But it believes quicker testing could have helped isolate those who were infected to prevent further spread.

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