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Local senior facilities managing COVID-19 spread

The Terraces
Courtesy of Debby Gonzales
Residents of The Terraces at Los Altos maintain social distancing while out and about, top, in a photo taken prior to mask mandates.

Los Altos senior and long-term care facilities are holding up well so far under the COVID-19 threat, according to representatives and based on the latest numbers.

Still, national experts worry the current summer spike in cases could impact such facilities and their vulnerable populations. 

Officials with Aliso Viejo-based Covenant Care, which runs the Los Altos Sub-acute & Rehabilitation Center, disclosed in a July 15 statement that seven residents tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and four have since recovered. In addition, 12 staff members tested positive and 10 have since recovered.

A Los Altos Sub-acute representative said the center routinely tests residents and staff members and has taken numerous precautions in accordance with local, state and federal health guidelines. Staff and other personnel are screened when entering the facility, and visitors are prohibited. A special observation unit has been created for quarantining, and separate areas established for patients who test positive.

BridgePoint at Los Altos, an independent and assisted living community, has had six COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic, five “associates” and one resident. All have since recovered.

“We are happy to report that currently there are no active

COVID-19 cases at the community,” BridgePoint spokeswoman Martha Cook said in a written statement. “BridgePoint at Los Altos has stringent community-wide protocols in place to help contain and prevent the spread of the virus and is staying aligned with the changes in federal, state and local guidance.”

HumanGood, based in Pleasanton, cited 50 active COVID cases among its 21 senior living communities and 5,400 residents. None, however, were reported at The Terraces at Los Altos, its 200-resident local community, as of July 14.

“We have really good infection control processes, and we implemented them very early,” Terraces executive director Debby Gonzales said. “As soon as we started getting whispers of COVID, we started taking additional steps to make sure that we were sanitizing all areas … that people were understanding the need to use hand sanitizer. But it really came down to is everyone in our community cooperating and taking care of each other.”

Although the current uptick in COVID cases finds the virus impacting younger populations the most, health experts suggest skilled nursing and assisted living facilities are at heightened risk as well.

“With the major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we are very concerned this trend will lead to a dramatic increase in cases in long-term facilities,” representatives of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living wrote in a July 14 letter to state governors.

The letter, from AHCA CEO Mark Parkinson and NCAL executive director Scott Tittle, cited recent independent research by Harvard Medical School, Brown University’s School of Public Health and the University of Chicago that showed the level of COVID cases in the surrounding community was the top factor in outbreaks in senior facilities. The groups cautioned against reopening such facilities to visitors, while urging expedited test results and an additional supply of personal protective equipment.

But Gonzales noted that “team members” bringing in the virus from the outside world hasn’t been a problem locally, as it has been in other areas. She said employees have been careful to limit their exposure. 

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