County Deploys Teams to Aid Nursing Facilities

Taylor Martinez

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Teams consisting of paramedics, nurses and other health care professionals began making the rounds Tuesday in Riverside County to provide support, distribute protective gear and keep workers at skilled nursing facilities on the job and safe during the coronavirus emergency.

According to the Riverside University Health System, four Skilled Nursing Facilities Outreach Support — SOS — teams have been formed to address needs in the central, eastern, northwest and southwest county regions.

The units are being deployed with the goal of preventing a repeat of last week’s evacuation of a Riverside patient facility, where the majority of staff failed to report for shifts, evidently due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

“There has been so much incorrect information that has spread that many employees in these facilities are scared to show up for work,” county Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said. “Information is power, and by providing these employees with accurate information about how COVID-19 is and is not spread, they will be confident when they report to work.”

In addition to speaking with each facility’s staff to address specific concerns, the SOS teams will be demonstrating safety techniques, handing out masks and making other equipment available, officials said. Each location will also be scrutinized to determine if there are any imminent problems that require immediate remedial action.

Further details about the teams will be provided during a briefing Tuesday afternoon by RUHS administrators.

Last Wednesday, 83 patients from the Magnolia Rehabilitation & Nursing Center were evacuated over a period of roughly 10 hours, going to alternate facilities, after the rash of no-shows, which prompted an investigation by RUHS.

Officials said 34 patients and 16 workers tested positive for COVID- 19. However, none were reported to be in dire condition.

“Rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes present a challenge for health officials due to the age and health conditions of the residents, as well as their close proximity to each other,” according to an RUHS statement. “The county prioritizes investigations in these facilities due to the high risk of serious illness that outbreaks pose.”

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