Nursing Home with COVID-19 Cases Evacuated After Employee No-Shows

RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Today's evacuation of more than 80 patients from a Riverside nursing home, where multiple coronavirus infections were verified and a large number of staff failed to show up for work, was expected to last until nightfall.

“We've got everybody packed and ready to go, but it's slow,” Riverside University Health System spokesman Jose Arballo told City News Service. “As soon as the ambulances arrive, we are loading the patients into them and sending them to the other locations.”

The 84 patients are being moved from the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center to alternate undisclosed facilities throughout Riverside County, he said.

“We have had 34 patients here test positive for (COVID-19),” Arballo told reporters earlier. “The county stepped in and staffed it for a day and a half, and that was not sustainable. So Dr. Cameron Kaiser, our county health officer, decided to evacuate the facility and move the patients to locations that are fully staffed and safe for them.”

Riverside Fire Department personnel were providing hands-on assistance with the removals, and police officers were also at the location for traffic control, according to reports from the scene.

Arballo told CNS that despite their best efforts, the process of transferring the patients was moving at a grudging pace.

“It took two hours to move 16 people this morning,” he said. “We have 34 who are COVID-19 positive, but from what I understand, most of the patients are medically stable.”

According to RUHS officials, the system and Kaiser Permanente sent 33 licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses to care for the residents after only one of the facility's nursing assistants showed up to work. Another dozen apparently called in sick.

Five employees have been diagnosed with the virus, officials said.

According to the county, there are no further tests scheduled for those affiliated or housed at the 90-bed facility.

“Rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes present a challenge for health officials due to the age and health conditions of the residents, as well as their close proximity to each other,” according to an RUHS statement. “The county prioritizes investigations in these facilities due to the high risk of serious illness that outbreaks pose.”

A skilled nursing facility in the Coachella Valley last month was the source of additional COVID-19 infections.

The latest figures published by RUHS indicate 1,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases countywide, with 28 deaths and 67 recoveries.

Photo: Getty Images

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