The driveway into the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)
The driveway into the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)

Testing shows no coronavirus cases among residents, staff at SF Jewish senior home

UPDATED May 30, 7:30 p.m.

The San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living reported zero cases of Covid-19 after a mandated round of widespread testing by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Close to 900 tests were administered among patients, residents and staff members at the Jewish Home & Rehab Center, the long-term skilled nursing facility on the SFCJL campus. Employees working from home were ordered by the facility to get tested at an offsite location; all of those tests came back negative, too, according to the senior home’s website.

“We credit this amazing result to the herculean efforts of our staff and our decision to act early and swiftly during this crisis,” president and CEO Daniel Ruth said in a press release.

The results are particularly significant as the senior home continues to take in recovering Covid patients released from local hospitals in compliance with a statewide effort to reduce the strain on regional hospitals. The decision to take in the Covid patients previously had caused concern among families of long-term residents about a possible outbreak of the virus.

So far, nine of the Covid patients have been discharged and five remain at the facility.

“We know that this has been a very difficult time for everyone associated with our organization,” continued Ruth in the press release. “We hope they now see the value of what we have been doing and that it was done out of love and caring for everyone including staff and their loved ones.”

Prior to the city’s universal testing, a total of three staff members at the senior home had tested positive for the virus. The facility’s press release said that none of these employees had contracted the virus while at work.

“I think the Jewish Home has done a tremendous job with the care for their patients and residents and their staff,” said San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who represents the district where the SFCJL is located. “To have not one positive Covid result for the largest private skilled nursing facility in the state is a testament to their caution and hard work.”

Safaí added, “This was one of our office’s highest priorities, and we spoke daily to the Jewish Home and worked hard to ensure this testing of all patients and staff happened.”

Irina Gendelman, whose 89-year-old mother-in-law Doba Gendelman lives at the SFCJL, said she was “very happy, relieved and thankful” about the results.

“I still think that admitting Covid patients was [an] unjustified risk, but very happy that [the Jewish Home] was taking that with great responsibility and precaution,” Gendelman said.

On May 1, San Francisco’s health department announced that it would start conducting universal testing within the city’s skilled nursing facilities. Tests were administered at the SFCJL for a period of five days between May 21 and 25.

Another round of testing will happen within two to four weeks at the Jewish senior home, according to a city health department official.

Another Jewish senior facility in San Francisco, Rhoda Goldman Plaza, was not included in the city’s mandate to conduct universal testing because it does not have a skilled nursing facility, but it started administering tests to its residents and staff independently on May 18.

As of May 28, there have been no positive cases at Rhoda Goldman, according to the state’s Department of Social Services website.

The coronavirus has devastated senior facilities in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. About one-fourth of Covid deaths in the country are linked to senior facilities, according to the AARP, and experts say that estimate is almost certainly an undercount.

On its website, the SFCJL provided additional updates along with the testing results.

The facility will continue to restrict visitors from all units, despite a May 26 order by the San Francisco health department that loosens rules surrounding visitors at the senior home’s Acute Psychiatric Hospital.

“We understand and empathize that visitor restrictions have been extremely difficult for everyone,” the senior home stated on its website. “Please be assured that we are engaging in ongoing conversations with SFDPH, [California Department of Public Health], and other applicable agencies about the plan to re-open nursing homes to family visitation.”

The SFCJL also announced plans to submit a “COVID-19 Mitigation Plan” to the state’s health department for review. If the plan is accepted, health department surveyors will visit the facility to ensure that protocols and policies are being followed.

A timeline of this process was not included on the facility’s website, but the SFCJL said it would provide an update after a visit by the state was completed.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at gabriel@jweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.