Survey: LA County Nursing Homes Hardest Hit By COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Just about nine out of 10 -- or 89% -- of certified nurse assistants and other frontline workers at Los Angeles County skilled nursing facilities say they know of or suspect COVID-19 cases among staff -- compared with 69% who work outside the county, according to a survey released today.

The percentages reflect nursing homes with a majority of Black or Latino residents, according to statewide research from the California Health Care Foundation and Truth on Call.

Among those working in Los Angeles County, 76% report infections among their facility's residents compared to 50% of those who work elsewhere in California. In line with other data showing COVID-19's disproportionate impact among people who are Black or Latino, 66% of those who work in facilities with half or more Black or Latino residents report cases among residents.

By comparison, 50% of those who work in facilities where less than half of residents are Black or Latino report cases among residents. This in spite of the fact that Black and Latino Californians report compliance with prevention measures -- like wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing -- at above average rates.

“Frontline health workers in nursing homes are reporting disturbingly high numbers of COVID-19 cases among the staff of these facilities,'' said Kristof Stremikis, director of market analysis and insight at the CHCF. “The trend is even worse in Los Angeles County, which has experienced a noticeable spike in cases, as well as in facilities that serve higher percentages of Black and Latino residents.''

Stremikis said that because most nursing home workers have seen COVID-19 cases among staff and even residents at their facility, they tend to be extremely worried about contracting the disease themselves. “Many are concerned about their facility's ability to respond to infections when they occur,'' he said.

The survey, conducted June 5-July 12 among 353 employees at California skilled nursing facilities, included 285 certified nurse assistants, who typically perform the most patient care tasks in nursing homes. Other participants included people who work in food service, janitorial services, housekeeping, and laundry.

Respondents expressed ongoing worries about the availability of tests, protective equipment, and strategies for fighting the virus. More than eight in 10 respondents say patients and staff are being tested for COVID-19 when needed at least “most of the time.''

While 77% report adequate personal protective equipment at their facility, 23% say such gear is not adequate, and 88% say their facility has the capacity to quarantine residents who have been exposed to COVID-19 or group those who have been infected together. These are two key strategies for containing outbreaks.

Nearly three in four respondents -- or 74% -- say they are very confident or somewhat confident in their employer's ability to respond to current or future COVID-19 infections among residents or staff, while one in four say they are not confident.

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