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YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) – So far in Arizona, 75% of all COVID-19 deaths have involved patients over the age of 65. Throughout the pandemic, assisted living and long-term care facilities have taken special precautions to protect residents, and have undergone unique challenges.
Emerald Springs was home to 86-year-old Helen Espinoza. She had dementia, however was more lucid than most patients according to her daughter, Diana Wise.
“She was special to us.” said Wise. “She was the person that loved socializing at parties and was a very fashionable lady. We miss her smile. Her always saying I love you more… To us.”
Espinoza passed away from COVID-19 on November 22, 2020.
Wise said she learned of her mother having the virus on November 6th. This after Emerald Springs reported to it’s resident’s families several people within the facility had contracted the virus.
The same day Espinoza was diagnosed, Wise said she was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) to be checked out.
Documents obtained by News 11 from Espinoza’s medical file showed a back and forth between YRMC and Emerald Springs on what to do with COVID-19 positive residents during Espinoza’s initial visit.
In one portion of the document, an unidentified doctor wrote about Emerald Springs refusing to accept it’s residents back until they tested negative.
This being because Emerald Springs claimed some residents shared a bathroom.
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Q was identified by Emerald Springs as a nightshift worker at the facility.
YRMC has refused to comment on the document citing doctor-patient confidentiality.
However, Emerald Springs told News 11, none of these claims by the doctor were true.
Citing doctors during this time were under a lot of stress, but the facility never abandoned it’s residents as written on the document.
Wise said the same doctor had told her, Emerald Springs was sending several other patients that tested positive, but they were not ill enough to be hospitalized.
Emerald Springs said, during this time it was requesting YRMC allow them to come up with a plan for the sick residents.
November 2020 was the same month YRMC reported a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Emerald Springs began accepting it’s residents back by the next morning, placing them in a specific COVID unit.
— Beutee (@BeuteeS) March 10, 2021