HAYWARD (CBS SF) -- New cases were reported in a coronavirus outbreak at a Hayward nursing home as well as another resident death Thursday afternoon where owners have been cited for previous violations.
Alameda County Public Health Department spokeswoman Neetu Balram said Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center has 65 confirmed COVID-19 cases, six more from the day before. A seventh resident has died from the illness, said Balram. Among those cases, 40 are residents and 25 are staff members.
Meanwhile, East Bay Post-Acute Healthcare Center in Castro Valley now has 31 coronavirus infections, 20 of them staff members and 11 residents.
The owners of the Gateway nursing home have a record of violations at the center and reportedly were denied licenses to operate other such facilities in the past. A family member of one of the Gateway residents told KPIX 5 Gateway finally reached out to them Thursday morning and said they were fully staffed. But it's unclear where those staff members are coming from.
A California Department of Public Health (CDPH) enforcement action dashboard shows East Bay Post-Acute last month was fined $75,000 for a class AA citation, a violation that CDPH has "determined to have been a direct proximate cause of death of a patient or resident of a long term care facility." In January 2019, Gateway was fined $1,000 for a Class B violation, which has a direct or immediate relationship to patient health, safety, or security. A similar fine was issued to Gateway in 2016.
Anthony and Prema Thekkek, owners of Gateway have reportedly been cited for violations at other skilled nursing facilities they owned across the Bay Area, including abuse and lack of infection control.
At least three ambulances arrived at the care center Thursday morning, leaving one patient's grandson worried about the outbreak escalating further.
Jaime Patiño, a Union City city councilmember, says his grandmother has dementia and requires 24-hour care at the facility. Thursday morning he visited her window where family members left a poster board for her.
"That's what I'm very much worried about, the fact that this thing exploded over two days," said Patiño. "The reason why you probably see the ambulances like you do right now is because they're probably transferring a lot of people to the hospital."
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
"From the beginning they didn't have any masks at all. The employees are taking masks at home, my wife brought from home," said Dinesh Kumar, husband of a Gateway nurse. "Now they have masks now that they know they have COVID patients."
Kumar's wife is one of the 24 staff members who tested positive for coronavirus, and said employees who tested positive were told to go back to work.
"After she got diagnosed positive the employer called. A supervisor told my wife, 'Oh you can still come to work,'" said Kumar. "I said, 'No we've been told you're supposed to be isolated.'"
Guadalupe Tafolla told a similar story. "They told my wife, 'You can come back to work. Just have to wear a mask and be careful,'" Tafolla said. "She's positive! Of course, she's never going to come back to work."
"If that's the case, there are legal penalties for that and I really hope that they are investigated to the fullest extent of the law," said Patiño.
For now, Patiño's grandmother doesn't have any coronavirus symptoms, but he still wishes she was able to be taken care of at home.
Family members of other residents at Gateway said they feel helpless and could get no answers Thursday.
"I'm not sure if I can get a warrant to go in there or what I need to do," said Barbara Rios, whose mother is a patient at the skilled nursing facility.
Rios has called multiple times and got no response. On Thursday, she went to the center in person, but staff members wouldn't even talk to her through the front glass door.
"She's not getting the care that she needs," said Rios. "You know, She's an amputee so she can't really get up out of the bed to go to the bathroom on her own."
Like many other family members, Rios said she found out about the outbreak at Gateway on the news and is now very worried about her mother who is in her 80s.
"She's a diabetic, so she's at risk. She has lung issues," said a tearful Rios.
County health officials say they have established a task force to work on containment strategies at nursing homes where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and to conduct outreach with other facilities to implement infection control and prevention procedures.
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