California Nursing Home Hit Hard by Coronavirus

A Northern California nursing home hit hard by a deadly coronavirus outbreak is a highly rated facility. But even with a good track record, it wasn’t prepared to combat the coronavirus when it arrived.

At least 17 people died and dozens of staff members got infected after a housekeeping employee tested positive April 2 and was the first confirmed to have the virus at Stollwood Convalescent Hospital, a nonprofit nursing home in Woodland that received high marks from inspectors and a national accreditation bureau, the Sacramento Bee reported Saturday.

It is the deadliest nursing home outbreak in Northern California and among the worst COVID-19 clusters in the state.

“We put him there thinking he would be safe,” said Donna Scully, whose 71-year-old father was the fifth person at the facility to have died from COVID-19 complications. “And he wasn’t.”

Interviews and emails reviewed by the newspaper reveal nursing home and county health officials struggled behind the scenes to curb the virus. The documents detail a frantic, sometimes slapdash effort to ramp up testing at the nursing home and roll out ever-changing rules from California’s health department.

For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some – especially older adults and people with existing health problems – it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Although the outbreak at Stollwood seems over – no one has died in more than a month – CEO Sean Beloud said he still struggles to understand how the virus found its way into the facility. He said the staff followed every guideline that was put forth to prevent the spread of the disease.

“This virus will find its way into the facilities,” he said. “No matter what precautions you have.”