83 residents at Calif. nursing home hit by coronavirus evacuated after staff fails to show for work

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - Dozens of patients were evacuated from a skilled nursing facility in California, where 50 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, after employees failed to show up for work two days in a row.

A total of 83 patients of the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside, California, were moved Wednesday to other healthcare locations in the county. More than 50 ambulances responded for the effort, according to county officials.

Only one certified nursing assistant of the 13 scheduled to work showed up Tuesday, so Riverside University Health System and Kaiser Permanente sent 33 nurses to help care for residents at the 90-bed facility. After staff didn’t show up for a second day in a row, the patients had to be moved.

“I am concerned this could rise to the level of abandonment, no matter how justified the reasoning might be,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, at a Wednesday news conference. “The state licensing board will have to determine.”

Officials say there are 34 cases of COVID-19 among Magnolia’s residents and 16 among employees. The facility still has dozens of pending test results.

“I spoke to a nurse this morning, early. She was reporting to work,” one man said. “She was very upset about the fact that people would be leaving. She also mentioned that there had been a lot of discussion amongst the staff of fear.”

The nursing homes taking in Magnolia’s residents will undergo standard containment measures, including closing the facilities to new patients and preventing staff from working at other locations, according to officials.

On Wednesday, Riverside County was reporting 1,179 cases of coronavirus with 32 deaths.

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