Woman Mourns Grandmother Who Died in Nursing-Home Outbreak

Granddaughter calls for investigation into allegations of misconduct and negligence raised by her grandmother

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After a woman died after testing positive for COVID-19 while at Reo Vista Healthcare Center in the Paradise Hills community, her granddaughter is calling for an investigation.

NBC 7 has confirmed 14 residents have died since an outbreak at the facility infected more than 100 residents.

Estela Bailey said she used to video chat with her grandmother, Maria Luisa Cuevas, every week. Bailey said Cuevas had been living at Reo Vista for four years, without any underlying health conditions, until July 3.

Bailey said Cuevas was asymptomatic after her diagnosis of COVID-19 and was isolated while recovering. Bailey told NBC 7 she questioned how Bailey and dozens of others were infected if the residents were sheltering in place and visitors were not allowed in the facility since mid-March.

“Nobody in there was positive," Bailey said. "The only people who had access in and out were the nurses and people who worked there."

Curtis White, who is an administrator at Reo Vista, said safety protocols were put in place when residents while sheltering in place and that essential medical personnel were the only ones allowed to enter the building. White said the first positive case was three residents six weeks ago.

Bailey said she and her grandmother video-chatted in the past, until nurses at Reo Vista stopped facilitating the calls after her grandmother raised a red flag.

“She literally told me, ‘Estela, I never thought this was going to happen to me. They’re not treating us good’,” Bailey told NBC 7.

Bailey said she booked a flight from her home in Ohio to San Diego soon after her grandmother told her that. Afterward, she tried video-chatting with her grandmother again but couldn’t schedule anything with staff.

"Unfortunately, the COVID outbreak that began in June required every available team member to focus on maintaining the necessary level of medical care for all patients," White said. "We deployed all staff to this mission and continue to do so. Regrettably, this situation inhibits our ability to continue setting up video calls."

Bailey said she got a call from Reo Vista notifying her that Cuevas was having a hard time breathing and died.

“When I was landing here in San Diego, she was already gone,” Bailey said.

According to White, 118 residents and 40 employees have tested positive since January, and that 17 employees and 54 residents are currently COVID-19 positive. The infected employees are isolating at home.

“We’re not going to leave this alone, Reo Vista needs to be investigated," Bailey said. "Whatever it takes, not just for my grandmother but the other people that are still there. If we can save one life, that would be good."

White said 26 residents and 23 employees have recovered from COVID-19. Six residents are in the hospital being treated for COVID-19 right now.

“It’s not fair for families," Bailey said. "It’s not fair, because you take them to these [skilled nursing facilities], trusting them, and it’s sad that it’s not just us,” said Bailey.

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