El Cajon Nursing Facility Has Highest Number of COVID-19 Cases in San Diego County

The state reports 58 cases at the facility. A spokesperson said 43 have fully recovered and the high number is due to the size of the facility

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An updated number by the California Department of Public Health show there have been 58 reported COVID-19 cases at Country Hills Post Acute in El Cajon. The number is significantly higher than the next highest number of cases at skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in San Diego County.

There have been questions as to reporting methods and the accuracy of numbers reported by nursing facilities, but as of May 8, the state says 47 residents and 11 staff members have tested positive at Country Hills.

There have been 39 total cases at Avocado Post Acute. There have been 36 cases reported at the Windsor Gardens Convalescent Center of San Diego, and 33 cases at Victoria Post Acute Care.

The complete list of COVID-19 cases at nursing facilities can be found here.

NBC 7 looked into why the number of cases are disproportionately high at Country Hills Post Acute in El Cajon. A spokesperson at the facility says the number is bigger because the facility is bigger.

Dan Kramer, a facility spokesperson said, the facility has approximately 275 residents and 375 employees.

“To put this in perspective, our facility has the most patient beds. We have 305 certified beds, considerably larger than the average skilled nursing facility in San Diego County. So, the number of cases at the facility relative to its size is smaller," said Kramer in an email to NBC 7.

Though the state public health website shows Country Hills with 58 cases, Kramer says there have been 55 positive patients. He said 43 have fully recovered, per CDC criteria, and there are currently only seven active cases.

And though the numbers are sobering, at least one person with a loved one living at the facility is satisfied with the level of care.

“I know this is scary, but there has been a lot of recoveries. There have been people who have gotten it and recovered and haven’t had to go to the hospital, said Marilyn Fullen.

Fullen’s sister-in-law has lived in Country Hills assisted living facility since 2004. She suffers from a brain injury, and has memory loss, but is otherwise healthy.

“They’re isolating people, they’re testing them if they come down with certain symptoms. For me, it is what it is. I’m sorry it got into the facility, but I think they’re really trying to do the best they can,” Fullen said.

Meanwhile, Karen Van Dyke, who operates a business that helps people place their loved ones in care facilities, said making the decision is very difficult given the scope of the coronavirus concerns. She says there are several things to consider.

“Look at their management, their protocols, are they using the CDC protocols? Are they going beyond that? Because following the CDC is one thing, but going beyond is really important because going beyond that means the quality of life,” said Van Dyke, who owns Senior Care By Design.

Kramer said Country Hills primary concern is the health and well being of its residents and staff, and has enhanced it’s safety protocols.

“Those enhancements include, among others, restricting non-medically necessary visits to our facility, screening employees and residents for symptoms and high temperatures, isolating persons who show signs or symptoms, and avoiding group activities where possible,” Kramer said.

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