LA Times: Brius Nursing Home’s Residents Hit by “Severe Outbreak” of COVID-19

A Brius nursing home captured headlines in the Los Angeles Times after a “severe outbreak” of COVID-19 infected 60 residents and 20 staff at the facility and killed seven residents. The outbreak, which comes amid “a steady slide” in COVID-19 infections in California’s nursing homes, has prompted concerns, according to the article published on October 8.

Source: Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2020

The Brius facility—113-bed Windsor Redding Care Center in Redding, California—has a history of resident care violations. During the past three years, the facility has averaged approximately twice as many complaints and violations of state laws as the average California nursing home, according to the California Department of Public Health.

In February 2015, Brius submitted its license application to operate the facility with the California Department of Public Health. The state’s health department ultimately denied Brius’s application due to the company’s history of understaffing its facilities and violating residents’ rights.

In denying Brius’s request for a license, the California Department of Public Health cited Brius’s track record of violating federal and state laws, including 265 federal violations at homes owned or managed by Brius during the previous three years. Thirty-nine of those violations put the health of a resident in “immediate jeopardy.”

Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz appealed the state agency’s licensure denial, and state officials have allowed Brius to continue operating the facility, along with four other nursing homes that Brius acquired from Windsor in 2015, on a provisional basis for half a decade. Brius has since renamed the facility and is currently doing business as River Valley Healthcare & Wellness Center, according to California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, California’s nursing home residents have experienced much higher mortality rates than the general public. According to The Times, “Nursing homes and senior facilities have accounted for 7% of California’s coronavirus cases and 36% of its deaths.”

In May, California officials implemented mandatory COVID-19 testing rules that have helped to reduce infections at the state’s nursing homes, according to The Times. On September 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom “signed a law requiring skilled nursing facilities in California to report disease-related deaths to health authorities within 24 hours during declared emergencies.” According to The Times, “The law was written in response to concerns that health agencies were slow to respond to outbreaks because they did not receive timely information about the facilities.”