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10 residents from Southeast Portland nursing home dead from coronavirus, employees say

Ten residents of a Southeast Portland nursing home have died from coronavirus -- Oregon’s largest known cluster of deaths tied to the disease.

The death toll at Healthcare at Foster Creek -- provided by two employees and confirmed by information released late Friday by the state Department of Human Services -- accounts for nearly one in five coronavirus deaths in the state.

It indicates the coronavirus pandemic has hit long-term homes for the elderly far harder than previously known.

The full scope is unclear, however, because state officials have not yet provided home-by-home details on COVID-19 cases for all facilities, as requested by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Corvallis Democrat Sen. Sara Gelser, who chairs the Senate Interim Committee on Human Services, Tweeted this story after it was published, saying she only learned about the deaths from a state official who heard it from a reporter.

"Information must be more timely and transparent,” Gelser wrote.

Three other senior communities have had major outbreaks. Laurelhurst Village in Portland has reported the deaths of five residents and positive cases among 57 staff members and residents.

The others are at the state veterans home in Lebanon, which has reported the deaths of three residents and 21 cases among residents, and Marquis Marian Estates, a nursing home in Sublimity that has confirmed seven residents and six employees have fallen ill with the coronavirus. Nobody from Marquis Marian Estates has died.

At Healthcare at Foster Creek, about 20 current residents have been diagnosed with the disease or are showing symptoms, according to nurse Morgen Crumpacker and nursing assistant Alyssa Talimao who work there.

The two caregivers described dire conditions, with far fewer staff working than normal and far more high-risk residents.

They have kept separate tallies of each coronavirus death as the outbreak tore through the nursing home since its first cases were identified in late March. Foster Creek is licensed to hold up to 114 residents.

Crumpacker and Talimao said they’ve counted nine people who have died after getting diagnosed with the disease, Latest Portland News based on staff briefings, calls from testing labs, an internal resident database and nurse and caregiver chart notes. A 10th person with coronavirus symptoms also died but hadn’t been tested, they said.

Elisa Williams, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, said Healthcare at Foster Creek has reported 10 COVID-related deaths, 18 other cases among residents and six cases among staff.

The nursing home has provided updates on its website, and through Monday indicated five residents had died. The nursing home is managed by Benicia Senior Living of Oregon. One of the company’s owners didn’t respond to email and phone calls for comment.



Crumpacker, a licensed practical nurse, and Talimao work in the same unit. Both said Foster Creek needs more help to fight the outbreak and protect residents and employees.

“All of us are motivated and working to keep these patients alive,” Talimao said. “And they keep dying.”

Many workers have been out sick or have decided not to come to work for fear of infecting their families, the women said. As a result, Talimao alone had to care for more than 20 residents by herself at least twice in the last few weeks.

Normally, three nursing assistants staff Talimao’s 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift, along with a nurse.

Now, when Crumpacker and Talimao are on the same shift, the nurse must provide basic care typically done by nursing assistants and forego more intensive care.

“You focus on barebones necessities,” Crumpacker said. “These people need water. These people need food.”

Crumpacker also said she’s been reusing the same N95 mask for a week and a half, Press Release Distribution Service tying a handmade cloth mask around the front and washing it daily.

The Oregon Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office raised the alarm Thursday about the nursing home to Multnomah County, citing in an email “grave concerns coming from staff and family members related to Health Care at Foster Creek.”

Lisa Ferguson, a county health official, responded that the county’s Health Department did an “infection control assessment” of Foster Creek with the Oregon Health Authority.

The state Department of Human Services has been “working to provide additional staffing” so that sick and healthy residents can be separated, Ferguson wrote.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, a company that provides staff for residents with mental health needs at Foster Creek, also pulled its employees out of the nursing home “due to healthcare practices” there, according to an ombudsman’s email obtained through a public records request.

The Cascadia manager explained that the company felt the home wasn’t making protective equipment available and that Cascadia workers were concerned that some Foster Creek staff were working in units with positive cases and those without cases.

About a week ago, Crumpacker recalled singing to an infected resident struggling to breathe. When she started in on “Amazing Grace,” she stumbled on some of the words and another patient in the room picked up the verse.

The patient with COVID-19 died several days later, she said.

-- Fedor Zarkhin

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