My previous article on the COVID infections in the Kei-Ai Nursing Homes appeared in The Rafu on 9/9/20. Since then, there has been an alarming surge in the number of residents infected by COVID-19, COVID-related deaths and staff infections at the former Keiro Nursing Homes, which are the only Japanese American skilled nursing facilities left in the entire nation.
It shocked me back in September to see the numbers on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s postings. But now, three months later, I fear for the worst and I dread to see the numbers that are available for public view.
The L.A. Times postings as of 1/3/21 (refer to the link below) indicate staggering numbers: Kei-Ai Los Angeles with less than 290 occupancy has 225 residents and 157 staff who have tested positive for the virus and 75 COVID-related deaths. Kei-Ai South Bay with less than 100 occupancy has 79 residents and 60 staff who tested positive and 15 COVID-related deaths.
This indicates that a VAST MAJORITY of residents and staff have been infected at the two Kei-Ai Nursing Homes. Moreover, according to the list of all skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in L.A. County that have reported COVID-positive cases, Kei-Ai L.A. shows the highest numbers of infections and deaths of residents. Since Kei-Ai Nursing Homes are what the Nikkei community has left of skilled nursing facilities, this is an obliteration of the little we have for our seniors.
The devastating numbers indicate that this deadly virus is out of control, and that it is a matter of time before a resident or a staff member who was free of the infection will eventually test positive for COVID-19.
Kei-Ai L.A. is a designated COVID facility, which requires an isolation unit to contain infected individuals. However, with so many residents and staff testing positive, and in addition, new admissions of COVID-19 patients from various local hospital ICUs who may be asymptomatic but contagious, the whole situation would make containment of the virus very difficult or impossible.
The fact that Kei-Ai L.A. is a designated COVID facility has not been made known to the residents or their families. The operators of the facilities would most likely argue that they are serving the larger community; however, at what cost?
Seniors in the community who are aware of this information are refusing to enter Kei-Ai Nursing Homes, claiming that they fear becoming ill and dying. Those who do not have a choice, like the long-term residents who have been in the facilities or Nikkei seniors who need bilingual staff and doctors, are not so fortunate. Soon there will be a day when the residents and staff will be vaccinated, but in the meantime, there will most likely be further damages.
In my last article, I commented that the COVID-19 designation of Kei-Ai L.A. must be voided to prevent any more spread of the virus and loss of lives. These are lives lost needlessly and the elders have been suffering needlessly. The highly risky conditions have impacted all residents in the two facilities.
For the Nikkei seniors who entrusted the facilities to provide them with safe and caring Japanese services, this is a deplorable phenomenon. I am grieving over the loss of many precious lives.
Keiko Ikeda, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice for the past 40 years in Los Angeles. She is also the vice president of Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy.