Covid death linked to Ontario senior facility that was taking significant precautions

ONTARIO – The Brookdale Ontario senior living facility has had one Covid death, the Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday, July 15. The facility also has six more cases than last week, for a total of 32 with positive tests.

A state record from July 1 said the facility had 41 residents.

The facility was restricting visitors, requiring masks and hiring extra staff by April 30, according to a state inspection report obtained through a public records request from the state Department of Human Services. The assisted living center used a hospital-grade disinfectant on counters, drawers, doorknobs and handrails, and had enough gloves, face masks and other equipment. The inspector found no reasons for follow-up in any of their 35 categories of precautions.

Heather Luther, Ontario Brookdale executive director, directed the Enterprise to the facility’s corporate parent, Brookdale Senior Living Inc. A company spokeswoman, Heather Hunter, declined to answer two sets of specific questions about circumstances at its Ontario operation.

Brookdale Senior Living is a publicly traded national chain based in Tennessee, which operated and owned 763 senior living facilities across 45 states in 2019. One of their other Oregon locations, in Clackamas County, has nine Covid cases with no deaths, the Health Authority reported.

After the first case, the Ontario facility began isolating residents with positive Covid-19 results, according to a July 1 state review. Each resident had a private apartment and bedroom, unless they were shared with a couple.

According to the review, employees with Covid symptoms were turned away, and staff checked residents for symptoms twice a day. Residents did routinely leave the facility, but the reason for their trips was redacted in the report. Residents did leave the facility for reasons such as medical appointments, Hunter said. Staff placed furniture in the common room six feet apart, canceled all activities and delivered meals from the kitchen to each resident’s room.

Some of the residents would be transferred to a Portland-area Covid treatment facility, the report said.

The July 1 report found seven concerns: the breakroom was not large for social distancing, staff needed a face shield disinfection area, a trash can for protective equipment needed to be no-touch, the designated personal protective equipment area needed to have instructions posted, the facility should monitor their staff’s hand hygiene and cleaning practices, symptomatic residents should be monitored more, to three times a day, and non-essential staff should not enter a Covid-positive resident’s apartment.

On July 6, a new report found that the breakroom issue was resolved, that the facility was in the process of getting no-touch trash cans, that the equipment area had instructions, and that non-essential staff weren’t entering resident apartments. They were in the process of starting to monitor their hand hygiene and cleaning practices.

The facility still wasn’t monitoring symptomatic residents three times a day, the July 6 report said. They also did not designate a place to disinfect, dry and store face shields.

By July 6, all Covid-positive residents were sent to one unit of the facility, with all but one entrance closed and sealed with a plastic barrier, tape and zipper. Nurses assigned to work with the Covid patients didn’t go to the other side of the facility. The facility followed current CDC infection control practices, the report said. Some residents who contracted Covid were receiving treatment from Covid treatment facilities in Tigard and Boise, the report said.

 News tip? Contact reporter Aidan McGloin at [email protected] or at 541-235-1005.


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