Health Officials Losing Patience With Seattle-Area Nursing Home

Washington State officials said they are losing patience with the operator of a nursing home at the center of the region’s coronavirus outbreak after 15 more people were sent to the hospital over the past 24 hours.

A team of 30 people from the U.S. Public Health Service is expected to arrive at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, just east of Seattle, on Saturday to help staff and government workers already there, according to Dow Constantine, the top official in King County.

“We are grateful that the cavalry is arriving,” Constantine said. “We’ve had some challenges with Life Care. And I’m starting to lose my patience.”

Conditions at the facility have “significantly improved” since the first U.S. death tied to coronavirus was reported there last week, Constantine said. While the workers on the ground are providing excellent care, communicating with Life Care and the families of residents has been a “challenge” Constantine said.

The hospital transfers and the arrival of the federal task force are signs that officials are struggling to minimize the spread of the virus nearly a week after it was first discovered in the facility. Constantine said that all 69 residents at the facility had either been tested for Covid-19, or would have the test completed shortly. Those tests can now be conducted locally; previously, health officials had to ship samples to the CDC.

Constantine said officials had determined they couldn’t close the Life Care facility. Even uninfected patients there need 24-hour care, and local hospitals and nursing homes don’t have the capacity to take and care for that many residents.

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