County Finds Coronavirus Cases Among Kei-Ai Residents, Including Deaths

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Rafu Staff and Wire Reports

As of April 30, the latest figures from the Los Angeles County Health Department for coronavirus cases at institutional settings included the following:

Sign on the door at Kei-Ai South Bay Healthcare Center in Gardena.

Kei-Ai South Bay Healthcare Center in Gardena: 37 confirmed staff, 43 confirmed residents, 10 deaths.

Kei-Ai Los Angeles Healthcare Center in Lincoln Heights: 12 confirmed staff, 23 confirmed residents, 5 deaths.

“Until last Friday (April 24), we had not done any testing at our facility, even though we had been asking the Health Department to come and test everyone from the very beginning of this pandemic,” Spencer Nordfelt, Kei-Ai South Bay administrator, said on April 29. “So, any of our patients who had a decline in health we immediately sent them out to the hospital. If the hospital saw that they needed to be tested, then the hospital is where the test was completed.

“Many of the patients tested positive. Some have now returned to our facility, some are still recovering in the hospital, and some unfortunately have passed away. The ones that passed away died in the hospital — not at the facility.”

In an update sent to patients, families and friends on April 28, Nordfelt wrote: “In our last update, we informed you that we were in the process of testing all of our patients and employees. We have completed testing and received notice today of the following results:

“Total number of patients tested: 36

“Number of patients testing positive: 12

“Number of patients testing negative: 22

“Number of tests still pending: 2

“Total number of staff tested: 57

“Number of staff testing positive: 7

“Number of staff testing negative: 50

“Number of tests still pending: 0

“None of the patients or employees tested who are currently in the facility were showing any signs of infection. With this new information, however, we are able to implement the following measures to continue to protect our staff and patients:

“• The facility is being divided into three sections, with each section being sealed off with temporary plastic walls: one section for patients who have tested positive; one section for patients who tested positive after being transferred to the hospital and are being readmitted to the facility; one section for patients who have tested negative.

“• Employees will be assigned to a section and will not be permitted to work in either of the other two sections of the facility.

“• The facility will strictly follow Public Health and CDC guidelines with respect to positive employees returning to work.

“We are proud of our caring staff and are always appreciative of the support and concern shared by our community. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.”

On Wednesday, Nordfelt said of the numbers in the April 28 message, “Those figures were accurate at the time and now have changed because of the testing that was just performed by the Health Department last Friday at the facility.”

Tanner Mitchell, administrator at Kei-Ai Los Angeles, commented, “The numbers on the L.A. County website may be technically correct if framed differently, but, as currently presented, they do not give an accurate representation of the data. For example, there have not been any COVID-related deaths in our facility. While we cannot speak for the county, they appear to be attributing deaths to a facility if a patient had been treated in a facility for any amount of time before passing away.

“We see the passing of any of our current or former residents as highly sensitive information. Behind every recorded death there is a grieving family. For obvious privacy-related reasons, we do not disclose this very sensitive data, which is in line with guidance given by the California Department of Public Health.

“Regarding testing, we chose to test all patients and staff (even if asymptomatic) at the facility in advance of the mandated health order. We know that this will likely reveal undiagnosed positive cases, but believe that it is in the best interest of the patients and staff to know this data so that we can more effectively provide care. We are still awaiting those results back from L.A. City.

“We are trying to arrange testing to be as frequent as possible. When we have specific details, we will provide another update to the families.”

In releasing the list, the Department of Health said, “Long-term care facilities (LTCF) are included on this list if they had at least one resident who developed symptoms while in the facility and tested positive for COVID-19 … Inclusion on this list does not suggest neglect or wrongdoing on the part of the facility.”

Barbara Ferrer, department director, said Thursday that the county is investigating confirmed or suspected cases at 307 institutional settings, including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons. That number is actually down from 329 on Wednesday, and Ferrer said the drop was a result of investigations being closed at some facilities because no cases have been confirmed at those locations for 14 days.

There have been a total of 5,296 cases at such institutional settings, and 525 residents have died, representing 47% of all COVID-19 deaths in the county. The majority of people who have died in institutional settings lived in skilled nursing facilities, Ferrer said.

Ferrer announced 55 more deaths due to the coronavirus, although nine of those fatalities were reported Wednesday afternoon by Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments. The new deaths raised the overall county total to 1,111.

Of the 1,020 people who died for whom ethnic data was available, 38% were Latinx, 28% were white, 19% were Asian, 13% were black and 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. The figures continue to show a disparate impact of the illness on the black community, which represents only about 9% of the overall county population.

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