(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Patient tests positive for coronavirus at Laguna Honda Hospital

A patient at Laguna Honda Hospital tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday after six staff had previously contracted the respiratory illness.

The 750-bed city-run long-term care facility was placed on lockdown Wednesday by the health officer in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and protect the largely elderly patients with underlying health conditions.

In San Francisco, the coronavirus has infected 223 across the city and claimed the lives of two, as of Thursday.

The health order said that “evidence from areas like the Seattle area also show how deadly it can be when residential care facilities have outbreaks of COVID-19.”

City health and emergency officials said that they “expect that there will be more cases of COVID-19 in the Laguna Honda community, among staff and residents” as the virus spreads and that “we will continue to do everything we can to decrease the spread and reduce harm for Laguna Honda residents and staff.”

The staff who tested positive, four nurses and two janitors, largely worked in two patient care units of the hospital, known as the South 5 neighborhood and the South 4 neighborhood, which each house about 60 patients. Health officials said Wednesday that the neighborhoods were placed under quarantine and patients were being checked three times a day for signs of infection of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

It was a patient in South 5 who tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, sources said. The patient is now in isolation.

Meanwhile, the hospital will test about 150 staff who work in those two hospital areas for the coronavirus.

In a letter to staff about the testing, Roland Pickens, director of the San Francisco Health Network, wrote that “we do not know that their co-workers contracted the virus at work.”

Since the outbreak, labor leaders have warned about the working conditions of healthcare workers, such as the limited supplies of masks that can protect them from becoming infected from the disease.

Deanna Chan, an occupational therapist at Laguna Honda and a Local 21 union member, raised concerns about the lack of masks during a virtual press conference Thursday held by Supervisor Matt Haney to call attention to the need of health care workers.

“There just still aren’t enough masks for people working there,” Chan said of Laguna Honda. “They are starting to roll out some guidelines on how we use masks and where we use masks. But as of yesterday afternoon, there were still not enough and people were still kind of having to bring their own from home.”

Laguna Honda’s acting spokesperson Deirdre Hussey said that they have the necessary supplies but have changed protocols to manage their use, such as by no longer having the equipment “readily available on unit shelves” but instead staff must request it from designated managers.

“We currently have all the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies required for us to continue caring for residents safely,” Hussey said. “However, we must continue to manage these critical resources carefully and therefore changes have been made to how PPE is distributed.”

She added, “This has been a change that the entire Laguna Honda community has had to adjust to.”

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