Watch CBS News

Coronavirus Update: Advocates Call For Sweeping Nursing Home Changes After Deadly Pandemic Outbreaks

REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) -- Nursing home advocates are calling for sweeping changes at assisted living facilities after at least 10 deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed by a Peninsula care home owner on Friday.

"It's complete devastation around us," said Gordon Manor executive Alisa Mallari Tu.

The facility, which was opened by Tu's parents in 1983, has had at least 20 residents and seven employees test positive for the virus. At least 10 residents have died, including former Stanford University President Donald Kennedy.

"I'm incredibly honored to have known him," said Tu.

The facility continues to operate as the department of public health steps in to help staff members contain the virus, she said.

However, there have been calls for an evacuation of the facility by medical experts.

"Caring for them has been a real privilege, and I want to continue to do that as best as I can under these conditions," Tu said.

"I wouldn't want to be there and I wouldn't want my mother there right now," said California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform Executive Director Pat McGinnis. "If you have 10 people who died, how many others are infected."

Nursing home advocates, including McGinnis, have called for reform at assisted living facilities for years. She said changes need to be made before more lives are lost, and that one size fits all regulations for the facilities are failing.

"They are not health facilities, it's not like nursing homes," McGinnis said. "They're not trained, they don't have to have staffing ratios, they don't have to have health personnel, they don't have to have the kind of infection control and procedures that we need in nursing homes."

She said her cries for change have been dismissed for years, but now legislators are knocking on her door to ask for advice on what can be done to protect the vulnerable communities in care homes.

"I am just so sad that it takes this in order to get some change," McGinnis said.

Gordon Manor was inspected by the California Department of Social Services at the end of January, and state workers found the care home to be in compliance and found no deficiencies.

The San Mateo County Public Health Department and the Department of Social Services declined an on-camera interview request by KPIX.

"It's awful, you know, but it happened, maybe one worker came in there and had it, and it happened, but it's not because it was dirty or any of that," said a man who said his name was Dennis, but did not want to release his last name.

Dennis said his mother and aunt have been residents at Gordon Manor for years, and that the care home shut its doors to visitors in mid-March. He added that he believes his family members should remain at the facility even amid news of the recent deaths.

"It's just unfortunate, it's like the world right now, it's unfortunate, nobody could've planned for this," said Dennis.

He said he's known the facility's workers for years, and hopes they can pull through this. Gordon Manor's motto is "just like family," according to its web site.

"We are doing our very best to hold each other in this time," said Tu.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.