Three care homes in Green Valley and Sahuarita have had a rough couple of months but all agree that coronavirus would have taken a higher toll had they not acted early and instituted complete shutdowns to protect residents.
La Posada CEO Joni Condit said Friday they have lost eight residents in the past month due to complications from COVID-19, all at La Hacienda, its high-acuity assisted living home.
All of the residents had comorbidities and several were on hospice care, she said.
They have had no cases in 470 independent living homes and all staff and residents in La Via Memory Care and La Joya — its lowest level of assisted living — tested negative about two weeks ago.
La Hacienda, where the community’s highest-needs residents live, has had 18 residents and 10 staff test positive over the past couple of months. They have had no positive cases in the past two weeks.
Condit said the residents with the virus are being cared for on a separate wing and staff dedicated to that area have “adequate PPE.”
Condit said La Posada is looking for a 14-day decline in new cases as it considers a gradual, strategic reopening.
On-campus bus routes will begin Tuesday, limited to four residents by appointment, and residents and staff must wear masks. Hair salons will also open Tuesday, with limitations.
The Fitness Pavilion will partially reopen June 1 by appointment, also with limits. Dining rooms could reopen mid-June.
Condit said they have not talked about a summer concert series but said social distancing could be difficult in the courtyard at Posada Java where they are held.
With most of its residents considered to be vulnerable to the virus, La Posada locked down its 100-acre campus, closed shops and public access and canceled events in March.
The Villas at Green Valley
Bobby Larson, one of the owners of The Villas at Green Valley on Desert Bell and La Canada Drive in Green Valley, said they lost their first resident to the virus near the end of March.
They now have lost seven, ages 85 to 100.
He said all were on hospice and most were in very frail condition before the diagnoses. All had comorbidities and, while testing positive for the virus, did not show symptoms.
The Villas residents are what Larson calls “heavy care” patients.
“This is a need, not a want," he said of the level of care. "These people come because it’s this or skilled nursing. Otherwise, they’d be living in a hospital.”
The first four residents who died showed no symptoms but tested positive for COVID-19 by their doctors. By the time of diagnosis they already were showing signs that their bodies were shutting down from underlying conditions.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with COVID 19, nothing,” he said of the deaths. “They were already mottling. When you’re mottling, you’re gone in a day or two.”
“We had one resident who was doing pretty well, but then she did get it and that obviously did affect her life,” he said.
The most recent death was about two weeks ago, Larson said.
“I’m not going to say we’re out of the woods at all,” he said, but added they have nobody with the virus on the campus now and that’s promising.
They had their first coronavirus case in mid-March and “we closed our doors earlier than just about anybody,” he said.
“I know we did everything correctly because the Pima County Health Department and Arizona Department of Health said we did.”
The campus has 10 separate homes with 10 residents each. All of the virus cases were in one home, Villa B, likely brought in by a caregiver “who didn’t know she had it.”
He said the employee started feeling achy about four hours into her shift on or about March 20.
“We got her off the property immediately but the damage had been done,” he said.
The employee — one of 60 caregivers at the campus — “sat out 14 days, had no signs and came back to work.”
He said 10 caregivers have been tested, all negative; 17 of the 91 residents have been tested, all negative.
He said it had been difficult getting tests for people not presenting symptoms.
“Until recently, you couldn’t get tested unless you had multiple symptoms,” Larson said.
The campus has a capacity of 100 residents and at any given time about 25 percent are on hospice care, he said.
There are now two residents in Villa B, and the building will undergo two days of cleaning and sanitizing this week.
The Villas hasn’t allowed visits since mid-March, and residents have been quarantined in their buildings. Larson said the death rate at the facility since the virus struck has been “about the same” as usual.
Larson said families have been understanding and no residents have been removed because of the virus outbreak. One man took his wife home because he couldn’t visit her and they missed each other, he said.
“Our people are particularly vulnerable, and you throw in something like that (virus), stuff’s going to happen.”
Santa Rita Nursing and Rehabilitation
There were 51 residents at Santa Rita Nursing and Rehab on Thursday, about half the number there were when the virus arrived.
That was by design, owner Carl Zimmerman said. When they had their first case, they emptied out as many residents as they could.
“I knew they would be safer at home,” he said, adding his staff did a great job containing the virus.
They have just a couple of cases in the building now and had few deaths, though he declined to say how many.
The facility held a parade to honor workers and residents May 8, a sign they believe things are headed in the right direction.
“Unless some sort of an incredible second wave comes along, we are absolutely over the hump,” Zimmerman said.
Over the past two months, 20 employees tested positive. Today, all of them are back at work.
“It’s a complete miracle, it’s unbelievable,” he said.
Zimmerman said they’re using “as much PPE (personal protective equipment) now as when we were in the thick of it.”
Despite the loss of patients, Zimmerman kept everybody on the payroll.
“Nobody missed a day of pay,” whether they were there or not.
Today, their patient load is rising as hospitals resume elective surgeries, he said.