Woman worried for sister at Avocado Post Acute facility who has roommate with COVID-19

Posted at 4:47 PM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 22:53:07-04

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) -- A new report from the California Department of Health shows one in five coronavirus deaths in America are linked to nursing homes.

According to newly released data from the health department, there are eleven nursing facilities reporting outbreaks of COVID-19. The data also shows there are just under 100 patients and staff members at those locally skilled-nursing facilities who have contracted the disease.

A local woman told 10News that her sister lives at Avocado Post Acute in El Cajon. They now have less than 11 reported positive patients. She is concerned for her sister, who said she got a new roommate Friday who tested positive for coronavirus.

"I'm really scared something really strange is happening," a 10News viewer said. She did not want to be identified for this story, in fear of retaliation from the facility.

Her older sister is in her late 60's and has been living at Avocado Post Acute for a few months. She has underlying health conditions, so she thought the El Cajon facility could help her live a nice life. That was until she got a startling phone call Friday evening.

"My sister said, 'I have a new roommate.' My sister said one of the nurses, she was an aid actually, said that she had COVID-19," the woman said.

The woman told 10News her sister now shares a small room with two twin beds. She said the roommate who tested positive was wheeled into the room and left there.

READ: State lists 11 San Diego nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks

10News first reported about Avocado Post Acute last weekend. In response to our 10News report, they said they are strictly following "city, county, and federal health guidelines for dealing with COVID-19 since February 2020."

The facility said they seclude residents who have tested positive for the virus. They also said new admissions and re-admissions from hospitals are placed in an isolated transition room for 14 days. But our 10News viewer said that is not what is happening.

"I don't want the whole facility to go down, but when they say they are isolating and taking care of the situation, it seems to me they are not telling the truth," she said.

A new study shows more than 7,000 deaths -- roughly 20% of all coronavirus deaths in America are associated with nursing homes. One of the first clusters of COVID-19 deaths were at the "Life of Care Center" in Kirkland, Washington, where 43 people died.

"It's like a domino theory," the woman said. "Those people all got sick and died, and I just don't want that to happen with my sister."

In California, nursing home cases are also on the rise. According to the California Department of Public Health, there are 1,290 staff members and 1,740 patients who have tested positive for the virus as of April 17, 2020.

"We have overall now, 400 facilities that we are monitoring in the State of California. Over 3,500 staff and patients that we are monitoring throughout our entire system," Governor Gavin Newsom said in his daily address Saturday afternoon.

Our 10News viewer hopes those who test positive at Avocado Post Acute get sent to isolated rooms in hospitals to protect those who are free of the virus.

"She's my only sister, and I just feel like, in my heart of hearts, I just want to help her," she said. "I just don't want my sister to die."

On Saturday night, an administrator with the facility contacted 10News to respond to the family's concerns saying that the patient was not a "new roommate" nor a new patient at the facility, and that public health officials approved that the patient be returned to the facility after receiving unrelated medical care at an acute hospital.

"The family with whom you are speaking is obviously concerned, and we understand that. These are difficult times for us all," said Dina Mookini, Administrator at Avocado Post Acute.

"However, the 'new roommate' was not a new patient to our facility. That patient was readmitted back to our facility from an acute hospital, where they had been receiving unrelated medical care. Public Health officials gave us the green light for that patient to return to Avocado Post Acute. The patient was then placed back in the same room, with the same roommate. One of our guiding principles, supported by the medical doctors and regulators alike, is not to move patients around to occupy new rooms, with new roommates. This helps avoid spreading the virus. Our mitigation protocols remain in place and we monitor everyone’s health on a very regular basis," said Mookini.