Every day, for the past few weeks, Rosa Montiel, 63, walks to San Diego Post-Acute in El Cajon to see her sister, Lilly. The only view she gets is through a window.
"Hello this is Rosa, can I have someone open the blinds so I can see Lilly?" asked Rosa on her cell phone, to a worker inside.
Rosa’s sister Lilly Montiel,57, has lived at San Diego Post-Acute for nearly three years.
“She's a down syndrome person who needs constant care, she's nonverbal at this point,” Rosa said.
Like so many other families throughout the nation and the region, COVID-19 serves as a wall between Rosa and her sister, Lilly.
Those living in nursing homes are the most vulnerable to contract COVID-19. Nursing homes throughout the country and the state have reported an increasing number of cases and deaths over the course of the past month.
Locally, more than 11 nursing homes in San Diego County have reported that residents in their facilities were infected with COVID-19.
One of the most widespread outbreaks occurred at Country Hills Post- Acute in El Cajon, where, according to reports by NBC 7, 19 residents and close to a dozen workers tested positive for the virus.
Adding to that barrier has been a mish mash of policies governing the nursing home industry and the home’s responsibility to report infections.
Now, Rosa is left hoping that COVID-19 does not spread inside the facility. One staff member has already tested positive. But when NBC 7 Investigates looked for that report on the state’s website, that positive case wasn’t found.
“We had one staff member, who does not administer care to residents as part of their duties, test positive for COVID-19 on April 2,” said San Diego Post Acute staffer, Mary Comri in an email to NBC 7 Investigates. “This person self-isolated for symptoms and was cleared to come back to work by County Public Health officials on April 25. No one else has tested positive.”
Comrie also said the facility reported the positive case to San Diego County’s Department of Health.
Comri added that their top priority is “caring for the well-being of everyone in our facility.”
Meantime, Rosa waits by her sister's window.
“I mean she's just there in bed. And I can't even talk to her. That's the worst part about it, and the saddest part about it.” She adds tearfully, “I'm sorry. I just hurt so much and feel so much for her.”