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Pandemic tests elderly care facilities

Nearly half of Nevada County’s COVID-19-related deaths so far have occurred at one skilled nursing facility, with nearly all deaths coming as a result of outbreaks in congregate living facilities.

Linda Cottrill, who is in her 70s and has her 95-year-old mother in a Nevada County skilled nursing facility, said the concentration of cases among vulnerable elderly populations has her concerned for the nation’s future.

“Our country is not ready for this wave of elderly. Folks from our generation, they’re living longer,” she said. “There’s not enough facilities. There’s not enough in home health services. There’s not enough room.”



According to Cottrill, the pandemic, rather than an indictment on any single facility, revealed how ill prepared the state is to take care of its aging population. According to the state Department of Aging, California’s population over 60 years old will increase 166% from 2010 to 2060.

“People will need help with what are called activities of daily living, dressing, going from the chair, a walker, whatever,” she said. “It’s a national problem.”




In Golden Empire skilled nursing facility, 17 resident deaths occurred as of Friday, with over 70 cases cumulatively among residents and 14 active cases. Among health care workers, 12 cases were active among 30 cumulative, state public health data states.

Every skilled nursing facility has now had cases among residents and health care staff.

There have been 11 deaths among residents at Spring Hill Manor, and less than 11 at Tahoe Forest Hospital and Wolf Creek Care Center.

Nevada County logged its 39th coronavirus death on Friday.

“It is important to note that skilled nursing facilities have been on the front lines of fighting this unprecedented pandemic,” CEO Nikki Toms said in an email. “Golden Empire Nursing and Rehabilitation staff, like all healthcare workers, continue to set aside their fears and anxieties, to care for and protect the facility’s residents against this deadly virus. The health and well-being of Golden Empire’s residents and staff is the facility’s top priority.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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