New details emerged on Friday around the California National Guard’s deployment to Los Angeles County nursing homes inundated with staff who tested positive for COVID-19, as initial reports provided by the military force proved to be inaccurate.
On Thursday, when this newsgroup first reported the deployment, spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma said there were four teams deployed to four nursing homes. It became clear by Friday that two of those facilities, Brighton Care Center in Pasadena and Los Angeles-based Alcott Rehabilitation Hospital, did not have any teams from the National Guard on duty.
On Friday, Shiroma corrected that report, saying there were five teams sent to nursing homes — including facilities in Pasadena, Woodland Hills and El Monte — but two of the facilities reported one day earlier didn’t have teams in them at all.
Shiroma’s initial report was based on “the documents in-hand at the time,” he said in an interview Friday.
Initially, the teams were headed to the four facilities reported on Thursday: Gardena Convalescent Center, Hollywood Premier Healthcare Center, Brighton Care Center and Alcott Rehabilitation Hospital.
But neither Alcott nor Brighton had any National Guard had teams deployed there, Shiroma said Friday.
Before boots were ever on the ground, Shiroma said, Alcott was removed from the list, and substituted for it was the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.
Trent Evans, a lawyer representing Alcott, told this newsgroup the facility never had any communication with the National Guard or state or local health agencies about this kind of support.
The Motion Picture and Television Hospital did not respond to a request for comment, asking if the facility had a National Guard team onsite. Officials there also have not reported their current caseloads to the state, according to the most recent data available.
In Pasadena, when a National Guard arrived at Brighton, Shiroma said the facility’s administrator suggested there was a greater need at other nursing homes. After running it up the chain of command, the team was redeployed to a different facility, though it’s not clear which one.
Shiroma offered two possibilities where there were teams on the ground as of Friday, he said: the Pasadena Meadows Nursing Center and the El Monte-based Eastland Subacute Rehabilitation Center.
Sherry Reyes, the administrator for Eastland, declined to say whether the California National Guard had been deployed to the facility.
In a new state report on cases in nursing homes released Thursday night, the Eastland facility had not reported any cases among staff or residents.
At Pasadena Meadows, this newsgroup’s request for comment was redirected to a public relations team, which did not return a phone call.
According to state data, there was at least one case at the facility, but fewer than 11. Pasadenaspokeswoman Lisa Derderian said one coronavirus-related death at the facility had been reported to health officials.
To be completely clear, according to Shiroma on Friday, here’s where the California National Guard has deployed medical teams in Los Angeles County:
- Hollywood Premier Healthcare Center, Los Angeles, reported correctly on Thursday
- Gardena Convalescent Center, Gardena, reported correctly on Thursday
- Motion Picture and Television Hospital, Woodland Hills, reported Friday
- Eastland Subacute Rehabilitation Center, El Monte, reported Friday
- Pasadena Meadows Nursing Center, Pasasdena, reported Friday
To confirm this information, Shiroma said he spoke to the commanding officer who is managing all of the teams in Los Angeles, rather than relying on the paperwork he had received earlier.
In the process, Shiroma indicated that a team was almost deployed to the Pasadena-based Rose Garden Healthcare Center, but it was nixed at the last minute. There are currently no cases at the facility, according to the state’s data from April 23.
The same database indicated there were 24 total cases at the facility split between staff and residents as of April 17.
The situation has “been very robust and very fluid, and the needs are great,” Shiroma said.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer indicated during Friday’s midday news conference that it was her office that got the ball rolling with the National Guard.
“We didn’t request the National Guard (specifically), but we did ask for help,” she said, lauding the military organization’s performance. “We put in a request one day, and the next day, the National Guard was being deployed.”
She said the request was made when she started noticing facilities were having difficulty keeping staffed when too many employees tested positive for COVID-19.
In the same news conference, Ferrer announced new restrictions on Los Angeles County nursing homes, following Pasadena’s lead which issued a similar order last week.
Nursing homes have seen the bulk of cases across Los Angeles County. Every single one of Pasadena’s 29 deaths have occurred in a nursing facility.
In an interview Thursday, Shiroma detailed the breakdown of the eight-member teams, which were sent to facilities on Sunday and Monday, though more may be deployed in the near future.
There are five military-type medics on each team, plus one physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, one administrative sergeant and one support service member to help with administrative work, such as payroll and other day-to-day operational necessities, Shiroma said.
The teams will stay until they’re not needed anymore, Shiroma added.
Ryan Carter contributed to this report.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been edited to clarify the number of cases at Pasadena Meadows Nursing Center.