by Jocelyn Wiener
April 6, 2021, Updated April 16, 2021
As COVID-19 has transformed many nursing homes into death traps, the role of state regulators has become even more critical in protecting some of California’s most vulnerable residents.Since the pandemic began, state records show, more than 9,000 nursing home residents have died of the virus – about 16% of California’s total deaths – though many health care experts believe that is an undercount.
Elder care advocates and some state leaders say the licensing impasse involving the Country Villa homes, with more than 1,700 beds, raises broad accountability questions: What is the state public health department’s role in ensuring timely compliance with its own licensing requirements? What happens if it doesn’t?
SOS Network: The problems associated with private ownership of senior care facilities (75% of the nations’ facilities) are exacerbated by conflicts of interests between those parties and elected officials all the way to the top of political parties. The lack of oversight is not necessarily reflective of a “broken” system, but is consistent with how the current system serves private interests that benefit from the lack of sufficient public oversight.
Seniors have thus been forced to bear the brunt of the pandemic like no other demographic. In CA, 4% of COVID-19 positive cases have been in senior nursing facilities, but they have had to suffer at least over four times that number in terms of the deaths.
In the case of the former Keiro Nursing and Retirement Homes, there is also the issue of lack of enforcement of mandates out of the CA Attorney General’s office, the original Conditions of Sale
which Pacifica Companies failed to completely follow or be held accountable to.
Add onto this discriminatory, unequal healthcare practices due to bilingual and bi-cultural services being in extreme short supply or nowhere to be found for non-English language primary speaking patients, you can understand why the Japanese American community is fighting hard against proposed mass evictions at the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights, which has been kept 100% COVID-19 free up to this point.
See also: Profit and pain: How California’s largest nursing home chain amassed millions as scrutiny mounted