Second Salt Lake City nursing home to become facility for coronavirus patients

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A second Salt Lake City nursing home will care for COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from hospitals, the Utah Department of Health confirmed Tuesday.

City Creek Post Acute, 165 S. 1000 East, is a 72-bed facility that will provide nursing care to people still recovering from the virus and who may have other health issues such as diabetes, department spokesman Tom Hudachko said.

“Beginning tomorrow, they will accept only COVID-positive discharges from hospitals,” Hudachko said Tuesday. City Creek had 65 residents, who have been moved to other facilities.

That makes City Creek different than the other nursing home that has been converted to a COVID-19 facility. Pine Creek Rehabilitation and Nursing, 876 W. 700 South, was made into such a facility April 4 after some residents and staffers tested positive for the virus.

City Creek will be for patients who no longer need ventilators or other acute care provided by hospitals but who may still require nursing assistance to manage their remaining symptoms or other health issues.

Hudachko said stays at City Creek could last days or weeks.

City Creek is owned by The Ensign Group, based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The company issued a statement Wednesday saying it agreed to make City Creek a COVID-19 facility in consultation with the state’s coronavirus task force.

“The committee carefully considered the risks and benefits associated with this facility designation,” the statement said, “including concerns about exposure from the virus to the neighborhood adjacent to City Creek. There is no epidemiological threat to the health and safety of others as a result of the presence of a COVID‐19 positive facility.”

The news release also quoted Allyn Nakashima, health care-associated infections/antibiotic resistance program manager for the Utah Department of Health.

“The facility is doing extensive training of their staff on infection prevention to ensure their personal safety as well as safety of the community," Nakashima said. "We don’t believe that there will be any additional risk of COVID‐19 above what is already in the community immediately surrounding the facility.”

Esther Hunter, chairwoman of the East Central Community Council, expressed some concern Tuesday about COVID-19 patients going to City Creek. Hunter is a mental health therapist who said she has had clients at City Creek and was not impressed with the care there.

She described the building as old with poor ventilation. Hunter said in recent weeks she saw staffers outside smoking together and not practicing social distancing.

“If they’re going to take these vulnerable people,” Hunter said, “they need additional training.”

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services fined City Creek $61,659 on Aug. 03, 2017, citing substandard care. But lately, the federal agency has given City Creek satisfactory-to-high marks.

City Creek has an overall rating of “above average.” Both the health inspection rating and staff rating were “average.”

Hunter said her neighborhood is “willing to do our part” to help during the coronavirus pandemic, but she wondered if Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, which is two-tenths of a mile from City Creek, would be a better choice for a care center.

Where to put patients with or without COVID-19 is an issue that has vexed policymakers nationwide. Many cities and states have tried to keep medical facilities dedicated to one group or the other in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Utah, too, has planned for pop-up hospitals to take COVID-19 cases.

Hudachko said a subcommittee of the coronavirus task force overseen by Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox sought a facility to take discharged COVID-19 patients, and The Ensign Group agreed to make City Creek available.

The patients arriving at City Creek may still be contagious, Hudachko said. Staffers will have to wear appropriate protective gear.