The Motion Picture & Television Fund’s nursing home in Woodland Hills, which saw the deaths of six residents during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, “is now COVID-free – exclamation mark,” said MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher, who noted that the campus’ last COVID-positive resident left the facility’s isolation unit and returned to his rooms on Wednesday “a free man – free of COVID.”
In all, 17 residents had tested positive for the virus – six of whom subsequently died. “Eleven of them have recovered and are back in their rooms,” Beitcher told Deadline, “and on a relative basis, they’re flourishing.”
Wide-scale testing of residents and staff, which was unavailable in the early days of the pandemic, “has been one of the key factors in tamping down and then ultimately eradicating COVID-19 on campus,” he said. Once wide-scale testing became available in mid-April, as the these charts prepared by MPTF show, the curve of infection flattened almost immediately, and then began to decline rapidly.
Before that, Beitcher said, wide-scale testing “was just unavailable. The only testing we could get our hands on at that time was if we had a symptomatic resident. We’re now in round three of testing every resident and every employee on campus at least once a month, and once every other week for those who are direct care-givers or who have contact with the residents.” To date, he said, the facility has conducted some 3,000 tests.
“We think about this as the closing of a chapter,” he said. “We don’t know how long the book is, and this was just a chapter in the book, because the virus is still out there. The next chapter will be about safety on campus and safety at home. It’s really just an all-out campaign with our staff to remind them that if they keep themselves safe, then it’s not only about them, it’s about their coworkers, their families and the residents. We know, and the staff knows, how it got in, and the staff has seen the consequence of it being here. It’s a success story to say that we’re now COVID-free, but it’s hard for me to think about success when we’ve lost six people. Not losing anyone would have been a success. But we are COVID-free, and now we’ve got to keep it that way.”