Six more residents at the MPTF’s skilled nursing facility have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total there to seven. The Motion Picture & Television Fund reported the first case on Tuesday. Some 250 entertainment industry retirees live on the MPTF’s Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills.
“The good news is that they’re all stable,” Bob Beitcher, MPTF president and CEO, told Deadline. “They’re alert and feisty, so with any luck, they’ll have mild cases and they’ll all get better.” Half those testing positive, he said, are in their 90s, and all are residents of either the Mary Pickford House, which is the campus’ long-term care facility, or Harry’s Haven, its Alzheimer’s unit. “They are, in many respects, the most frail and vulnerable residents on our campus,” he said, noting that the families of each have been notified.
The MPTF took extraordinary measures early on to prevent the outbreak, including restrictions on visits from family members; banning communal gatherings, including residential meals and movie screenings; and daily thermal scannings of residents and everyone entering the campus, including all employees. But because asymptomatic individuals can still pass along the virus, “it was inevitable that at some point this was going to happen,” Beitcher said.
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None of the facility’s staff and care-givers has tested positive, he said, but noted that “we can’t test our care-givers because there isn’t that kind of widespread, quick testing.”
“We have done everything to the nth degree” to protect the residents, he said. “The calls that I’m on every day are just endless. But in the end, you’re just sort of chasing your tail a little bit because the virus, obviously, is invisible. We know, from Public Health telling us, that probably a third to a half of us are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic – we had the virus but don’t anymore, or we have it now and aren’t showing any symptoms. And unless we’re tested, we don’t know who they are. So for us, it’s all hands on deck for our staff. Care-givers are at a premium, and it’s likely that care-givers unknowingly are infecting the people they are treating. The amazing thing is that we don’t have a single sick care-giver. But it’s just likely that that some may be asymptomatic.”
The residents have been in lockdown since March 6. “We got out way ahead of this,” he said. “Our residents have not been able to have any communal gatherings. Since then, we’ve had no visitors on campus. We’ve been screening our employees every morning, taking their temperatures. We’ve been screening our residents every day, taking their temperatures. We’ve had just tons of precautions.”
Beitcher, who does a weekly call with residents and with family members of all residents, said: “We want to be transparent. We don’t want to scare people, but they need to know what’s going on.” The residents, he said, “are taking it in stride. I’ve not heard any family member, either with me or with social workers, say that they’ve got to get their parents or grandparents off campus. Everyone that calls says, ‘You guys are doing a great job. We’re fully confident with having our family members in your hands.’”
“This virus is bad, for sure,” he said, “but in a bad flu season – just the regular old flu – we could lose three to five residents.“ We haven’t lost anyone yet, but this is a population that is susceptible to a mortality event. It’s the regular flu on steroids.”
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