S.E. Williams | Contributor
San Bernardino, CA – The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health announced Monday it is taking aggressive steps to protect some of the county’s most vulnerable residents—those in senior living facilities.
To this end, Acting Public Health Officer Erin Gustafson issued an order requiring nursing facilities to take multiple steps to protect their elderly and health-compromised clients. In addition, the county has created a special task force whose primary mission is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in local care facilities.
This action came on the heels of an announcement Saturday by California Governor Gavin Newsom, which identified San Bernardino as one of the four, nursing home “hotspots” in the state. The county is home to 171 state-licensed nursing facilities who care for approximately 6,600 of the area’s most vulnerable.
Commenting on the newly established task force, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Curt Hagman stated, “The county is dedicating every resource we can to fighting the spread of COVID-19. The task force will focus on supporting our senior living facilities in their efforts to preserve the safety of their residents.”
According to Hagman, work on forming the task force began a week ago when Cedar Mountain Post-Acute Rehabilitation in Yucaipa experienced a deadly outbreak. To date, 75 residents and staff at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19 and no less than five individuals have succumbed to the illness.
More recently, eight residents and seven employees at another care facility in the county, the Reche Canyon Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Colton tested positive for COVID-19. On Monday, April 6, officials announced the death of one resident.
The newly formed County Nursing Facilities Task Force includes representatives from Public Health and other county agencies. There is also representation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Inland Empire Health Plan and other emergency management and hospital stakeholders.
Gustafson also ordered all nursing facilities exercise any means necessary to “cease the use of staff members who also work at other nursing facilities.” In addition, all staff at San Bernardino nursing facilities are now required to wear protective gear to prevent them from spreading illness to residents.
Staff members are also now required to take their temperatures and are forbidden from entering the facilities if they are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19.
Gustafson acknowledged, “Without appropriate precautions and procedures, nursing homes can create a tragically ideal environment for the spread of viruses among those who are most susceptible to symptoms and complications.”
For information regarding COVID-19 in San Bernardino County visit www.sbcovid19.com. The county has also established a COVID-19 hotline available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at (909) 387-3191 or email the county firstname.lastname@example.org.