Mar 5, 2020
The Seattle Times – For nearly a week, the eyes of the nation have been on a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Families with loved ones at Life Care Center of Kirkland demanded more information, growing more concerned as the number of deaths from the nursing home rose to 10.
Even as their roommates were taken to the hospital, residents at the nursing home were not tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to their family members. And as staff got sick, workers said they needed reinforcements.
It appears a fuller response is finally coming. A federal disaster response team was called in, and Life Care said it has smoothed the flow of information to residents’ families. Officials are now saying all residents will be tested on-site.
The nursing home is coming under even more scrutiny as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would send inspectors, and Vice President Mike Pence, speaking in Washington state on Thursday, said “a very fulsome investigation” was underway.
Life Care Center did not respond to questions submitted late Thursday. In a statement, administrators said it was working with officials to monitor residents and prevent the spread of the disease.
It is unclear why it took until now for the broader response to arrive, but Life Care offers a test case as this coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, continues to spread nationwide.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, acknowledged at a news conference this week that communication with families was inadequate, as the nursing home struggled to contact them.
Although Life Care said Wednesday that each family was assigned a clinical representative who would provide daily updates, some residents’ relatives said those representatives gave incorrect information.
For example, a nurse called Pat Herrick early Thursday morning with the news that her mother, a resident of seven years, had died. But hours later … Read more.