Calculating Risk

One of the 11 Monterey County nursing homes with infection prevention-related citations is Cypress Ridge Care Center in Monterey.

To slow the spread of Covid-19, each of us has had to adopt strict new behaviors like washing our hands for 20 seconds and constantly dousing surfaces with disinfectant. But the new rules of sanitation are a breeze compared to the infection prevention protocols at nursing homes across the country, where some of the most vulnerable members of society live. The challenge of nursing homes came into focus following the Covid-19 outbreak at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

An analysis by the Weekly shows that these facilities have struggled to comply with federal standards, resulting in citations by government health inspectors. Seventy-five percent of nursing homes have been cited over the past three years for the failure of staff to follow infection control rules. California performed far worse, with more than 90 percent receiving citations.

In Monterey County, there are 14 nursing homes whose federal inspection records are available because they accept Medicare and/or Medicaid. Of those, 11, or nearly 80 percent, have been cited for infection control slips over the past three years.

The local figures may be alarming, but a deeper look at the type of infractions shows that local nursing homes have performed well compared to the rest of the country. Whereas 14 percent of violations nationwide have been for serious deficiencies, the number of serious deficiencies in Monterey County has been zero over the past three years.

Serious citations would include, for example, failing to report an outbreak of a disease affecting multiple staff and patients to the government. Far more common are paperwork problems or minor missteps in bandaging a patient. Federal records show 20 such citations across all local nursing homes.

In an example from 2019, a government inspector was observing a nurse treat the wounds of a patient at a local facility. The nurse, wearing gloves, applied an antiseptic solution to the patient’s right heel, which had a deep tissue injury. Then, the nurse removed the gloves and put on a new pair to treat a wound on the patient’s left ankle. The nurse failed to wash their hands between gloving.

“This failure had the potential to result in transmission of infection in the facility,” the inspection report reads.

Then 11 local nursing homes with infection prevention citations are Windsor Monterey Care Center, Carmel Hills Care Center, Windsor The Ridge Rehabilitation Center, Eden Valley Care Center, Katherine Healthcare, Windsor Gardens Rehabilitation Center Of Salinas, Cypress Ridge Care Center, Pacific Coast Post Acute, Westland House, Forest Hill Manor Health Center and Windsor Skyline Care Center. In total, they have 870 beds.

The only three facilities with a clean infection control track record are Canterbury Woods, Pacific Grove Healthcare Center and George L. Mee Memorial Hospital Skilled Nursing Facility. All three have a smaller-than-average bed count.

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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(1) comment

Norma Ray

My biggest fear is that no matter how much we clean and sanitize there are still to many non conformists that don't want to be a part of our "Big Hoax" is they see it, and homeless that don't have any way to practice sanitation even if they wanted to. Salinas created this problem for it's self and now it's residents will pay the price as always. How is this possible? I mean.. Salinas did not invent the virus. Of course not, but Salinas Authorities have drug their feet with the homeless situation for way too long. refusing to even provide the very basic of necessities such as toilets with portable hand washers. They have allowed them to wander about like zombies loitering, littering ,stealing and even murdering.. Making bad choices with homless grant money and expectingld they follow them now. They believe that the rest of the world owes them something that they don't already have and they want it.Life it's self is all about them and They to be given more. Still to this day there is no definite workable plan. As far as the non conformists who still gather nightly in large groups to enjoy their rituals of Animal abuse and racing. They have never had to follow rules before so why should they have to follow them now. It's just not fair. and t this whole virus hoax was created just to mess up their fun. They've never done without and they wont be told what to do. The City has catered to these youngsters who claim to be related or connected to "somebody" we should fear.. and now they are to old to spank and to young to put in prison. They wont care if they catch the virus. They will spread it on purpose to teach the rest of a lesson for telling them to stay home. The nerve of these "Boomers" that messed up their own lives and now we are trying to mess up theirs.

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