Updated on April 8
The San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living said it is now ready to accept Covid-19 patients after an order by the California Department of Public Health that said skilled nursing facilities (SNF) should be prepared to accommodate patients to ease pressure on regional hospitals.
“We have been asked to assist in this fight, we are well situated to assist in this task, and it is consistent with our mission to care for the sick and vulnerable of our community,” SFCJL spokesperson Marcus Young said in a statement.
Facilities like the SFCJL have been ordered to take in Covid patients to help hospitals in California that could soon be overwhelmed during the pandemic. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state should expect to see a peak in coronavirus cases in mid-May.
Young said SFCJL is preparing to meet the need.
“We have identified an area on the campus where we can safely separate and cohort these patients, with dedicated staff who have been given additional training and education,” his statement read. “These preparations will help us protect our current patients, residents and our staff while the COVID-19 patients receive the care and services that they require.”
Any Covid patients moved into SNFs would be “clinically stable” but would still require infectious-disease care and treatment, according to the order. The SFCJL said that staff working with Covid patients “will not interact with other patients or residents on campus nor [will] they interact with other staff.”
Relatives of residents are expressing concern about the order. Irina Gendelman, whose mother-in-law, Doba Gendelman, is a resident of the SFCJL, described the order as a “very, very bad decision.”
“We are putting people who are very contagious close to the most vulnerable people in the world,” she said.
Gendelman has not been able to see her mother-in-law, who is 89, since early March when the SFCJL closed its doors to visitors.
When first issued, the state order said SNFs could not refuse Covid-19 patients. But after pushback from the facilities, the state clarified on April 1 that they should be prepared to accept Covid patients — as long as they are equipped to follow infection-control protocols and have sufficient inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The SFCJL would not disclose how many Covid patients it could accommodate. The facility serves about 300 residents currently and has a total of 378 beds.
The Reutlinger Community in Danville, which also has a SNF, said it will not be able to accommodate Covid-19 patients.
“Our ability to isolate sufficient number of rooms, our shared bathroom design, lacking any negative pressure ability and the national shortage of PPE for nursing homes in particular would create a challenge to actively admit these patients,” Reutlinger CEO Jay Zimmer said in a statement.
The California Association of Health Facilities, a professional organization representing skilled nursing facilities (but not the SFCJL), told J. the state order is not realistic.
“While CAHF recognizes the reality of a possible surge of coronavirus patients in the future, the association is not in support of any requirements to transfer positive COVID-19 patients from the hospital to skilled nursing facilities, especially given the fatality rate in older individuals and people with serious chronic health conditions,” director of public affairs Deborah Pacyna said in a statement.
An SNF in a Seattle suburb, the Life Care Center in Kirkland, became a Covid-19 epicenter in late February. Almost 50 residents and workers became sick and 35 people died. In California, there are 1,230 SNFs including over 200 in the Bay Area. In Hayward, one such facility is currently experiencing a widespread outbreak of the virus, with about 40 positive cases and one death.