SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, the largest qualified nursing home in the state, continues to report the lowest COVID-19 death rate in the Bay Area for a facility of its size.
“The city made the decision very early on to take aggressive action against the pandemic,” said Michael Phillips, CEO of Laguna Honda.
Phillips is promoting the San Francisco Public Health Department’s early and aggressive approach to protecting the 715 residents of Laguna Honda in the Twin Peaks neighborhood.
Laguna Honda serves the city’s most vulnerable residents who cannot afford private care. The facility was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak in late March and immediately quarantined. Within a few weeks, CDC nurses, doctors, and epidemiologists came to infection control to help.
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“It was so important to ask for that help, not just to ask it, but to get it,” said Phillips.
The hospital reported 11 new cases of COVID from this recent surge of 309 active cases in long-term care facilities across San Francisco County, according to Phillips.
“Although we saw the number of employees increase during the surges, we haven’t seen an increase in the number of residents,” said Phillips.
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Of the 715 residents of Laguna Honda, only 5% or 33 residents have tested positive since March.
In total, there are more than 1,700 healthcare workers in the hospital, approximately 6% or 103 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
“One of the answers from the nursing home industry is that it’s just not possible for facilities to defend themselves against the virus. It’s too expensive, it’s just not possible, people are going to die,” said Mike Dark, an attorney in California for the reform of the nursing home. “We know from Laguna Honda’s experience that this is not true.”
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Cal Hospital Compare, working with UCSF, found that the number of patients in California nursing homes who are sick or dying from COVID-19 more than doubled between May and August.
The analysis of 800 facilities found that the size of the nursing home and the number of patients played a role in the mortality rate. But that didn’t happen at Laguna Honda.
The hospital reported it wasn’t death until December 11, ten months after the pandemic. To put it in perspective, this is one of the 100 or so nursing home deaths reported across San Francisco County.
“It is possible, like Laguna Honda, to get on early and do a lot of hand washing training to ensure staff understand how to prevent the virus,” said Dark. “If that happens, they can be effective in preventing people from dying.”
According to Phillips, trust in his employees played a big part in their success in taking extra precautions outside of the hospital to keep everyone safe.
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