Life Care Center of Kirkland still waiting for employee coronavirus testing results

Life Care public information liaison gave a new COVID-19 update in front of the facility March 12.

Tim Killian, a public information liaison for the Life Care Center of Kirkland, gave a new update regarding coronavirus within the facility on March 12.

The briefing was part of a series of daily updates given to the press in front of the center.

At the beginning of the gathering, Killian said that there were not very many changes to share from the previous day. There is no change in the reported number of deaths, though Killian acknowledged that while the center hears rumors of deaths, nothing official has been reported to Life Care representatives. The amount of residents inside the facility is still 47.

Test results within the facility are the same as they were March 11: 27 positives, 12 negatives, four inconclusive and five outstanding.

Killian said that the center has still not received results related to employee testing, which is happening off site. Starting today, however, there is a Life Care staff member who is actively reaching out to employees about their test statuses and whether they can return to work.

Of the 180 employees that were with the center starting Feb. 19 (the date the first resident was transferred out of the facility and later tested positive), 66 are now showing coronavirus symptoms, which is an increase of one from the previous day.

Killian clarified that when he had previously said that nurses with the facility are trained in infectious diseases, he meant to say that they are trained in infection control, which pertains to protective gear and how to minimize exposure to others upon leaving the facility.

Killian said that there is no official quarantine at the Kirkland facility because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health — Seattle & King County have advised representatives not to.

Killian said there are not yet mental health counselors available to residents as of the March 12 briefing, and that the facility continues “to want and need more employees.”

“We do need more help here,” Killian said. “We’ve been asking for it.”

He noted that employee-wise, the Kirkland site is at 114 staff members, a number then divided into nurses, certified nursing assistants, doctors, laundry staff and dietary workers broken up into shifts throughout a 24-hour period. There has been some relief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Killian said that the center is looking for more relief, as nurses are continuing to work longer-than-normal, less rigid hours.

While the center is getting closer to normal conditions, Killian said that the facility still has areas that are in need of improvement due to the lack of personnel.

At the March 11 briefing, Killian said today’s gathering could potentially include nurses appearing in front of the press to share first-person testimonials. However, after discussions with nurses, he said that at this point nurses were not comfortable both speaking in front of the media and shifting from patient care to a press-briefing setting.

“I really want the community to get a sense of the heroism,” Killian said, adding, “They continue to work really, really hard. It’s beyond incredible the amount of effort and love they’re giving to their patients.”

Killian said he does not know whether Life Care is receiving additional financial support and does not know if facility representatives have asked for it.

He said that center employees are grateful for the support of the community, of which several members have delivered food, water, cards and coffee.

Killian said he will look into the difference between respiratory illness (which had been reported at the facility prior to the coronavirus outbreak) protocol and coronavirus protocol at the center.

Another briefing from Killian in front of the Life Care Center of Kirkland is anticipated for 1 p.m. on March 13.