Second Visalia nursing home reports outbreak of COVID-19

Linwood Meadows, Redwood Springs share same ownership group with a history of health citations

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – A third nursing home in Tulare County has reported an outbreak of the coronavirus. This time, it is a sister facility to Redwood Springs.

On Monday, Tulare County Public Health Branch announced that the Linwood Meadows Care Center in Visalia has had 10 residents test positive for COVID-19. The outbreak was discovered when one patient began experiencing a high fever while in transit to an area hospital the evening of April 25 for an unrelated matter. The patient subsequently tested positive COVID-19 early morning of April 26. None of the patients exhibited any symptoms, but are now in isolation. As of press time, one additional resident was being tested who was not experiencing symptoms. 

“We are thankful for the dedication and service of our valuable staff to fight this pandemic,” said Scott Ng, administrator of Lindwood Meadows Care Center. “They are true heroes in the battle against this cunning virus and continue to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of everyone in our facility.”

Linwood Meadows Care Center, located at 4444 W. Meadow Ave., has approximately 77 residents and 110 staff at the facility. 

County Public Health officials are working alongside the facility and the state to ensure the facility is following proper infectious disease control and care guidelines and has appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and collection kits to expand testing for employees and other residents who are identified for testing needs.

“As public health professionals, we are concerned about these outbreaks, and we are working with the California Department of Public Health Licensing and Certification Program to implement all necessary safeguards at the facility,” Tulare County Public Health director Karen Elliott said.

During a 2017 survey, state inspectors found one in five licensed vocational nurses did not clean their stethoscopes after use on a patient, another didn’t wash their hands after patient contact and a dietary aide did not properly disinfect and clean food trays. In 2018, Linwood Meadows was cited for improperly using chemicals to clean restrooms, not changing mop water between rooms and a certified nursing assistant failed to wash her hands.

Linwood Meadows and Redwood Springs Healthcare Center are both owned by the Plum Corporation. Redwood Springs currently has 114 residents who have COVID-19, in addition to 60 staff members and eight related individuals, such as family members who came to visit or family of staff. Local hospital staff and a California Medical Assistance Teams (Cal-MAT) are onsite to assist. Cal-MATs are a state-coordinated, rapid deployment team of health care and support professionals for emergency events. Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency clinical liaisons remain in contact with the facility to provide guidance.

Since 2016, Redwood Springs has had 91 health-related deficiencies, more than four times the state and national average. The nursing facility has been cited for having deficiencies in its program to investigate, control and keep infection from spreading in all three of its most recent inspections.

In 2017, Redwood Springs had several infection control deficiencies including not properly labeling a biohazard storage area and cleaning and disinfecting products and not using those products according to directions, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Also in 2017, the facility had a scabies outbreak in 14 patients because staff failed to implement a control plan for the rash caused by a microscopic mite that burrow into the upper layer of the skin and lays eggs. This was the facility’s only infection citation since 2017.

In 2018, the facility failed to prevent the spread of bacteria in eight separate incidents including not washing hands, not changing gloves, leaving soiled linens on the ground, not cleaning bathrooms after use and handling trash without gloves. 

Plum Healthcare Group LLC owns 42 nursing homes throughout California, seven of which have been fined for health-related violations totaling $115,775, according to data from Medicare.gov compiled by Review.care, a web site that evaluates and compares nursing homes. Plum’s facilities overall were rated four of five stars, but 14 of its facilities received two stars or less for health inspections. Since 2017, half of Plum’s facilities have had at least one infection citation that could have led to harming patients or staff, but no one was hurt, according to a recent report by Kaiser Health News. A dozen were cited multiple times and one facility, the Pine Creek Care Center in Roseville, was cited four times in the last three years.

Lindsay Gardens, another Tulare County skilled nursing facility with an outbreak, currently has 38 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 14 staff and six others. The facility also has the assistance of a Cal-MAT team and other outside staff.

The three skilled nursing facilities account for nearly half (47%) of the 532 cases in Tulare County. The two Visalia facilities represent 85% of the cases in Visalia. 

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