Kirkland nursing home that was first epicenter of US COVID outbreak gets vaccine

Dec 28, 2020, 12:02 PM
coronavirus outbreak, Life Care Center, Kirkland...
Kirkland's Life Care Center. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Life Care Center of Kirkland gained national attention early in 2020 as the original epicenter for the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. Now, the nursing home’s residents and staff members are receiving the vaccine nearly 10 months later.

How Kirkland is managing after becoming an epicenter for outbreak

Life Care Center workers and residents began receiving the vaccine Monday morning, which marks the first day that long-term care facilities statewide are eligible.

“This is a great way to end the year,” Kirkland Life Care Center Executive Director Ellie Schutt said in a news release. “I think everyone in the skilled nursing industry is thankful that a vaccine is available and being administered, but it means a little more to see vaccinations happening at Kirkland.”

The vaccine is being administered through a pharmacy partnership the facility has with CVS. While it’s not required for all residents and staff, Life Care Center is “encouraging all residents and associates to take advantage.”

“We believe it is vital that each individual resident and/or their legal representative make informed decisions about the healthcare the resident receives, and we encourage them to consult with their primary physician for guidance,” Schutt said.

The first confirmed COVID cases at the facility were identified on Feb. 28, 2020, ballooning to 167 total cases by March 18. Of those, 101 were residents, 50 were staff members, and another 16 were visitors identified as part of contact tracing efforts.

90-year-old Life Care Center of Kirkland patient survives COVID

Despite reporting being COVID-free by the end of March, the outbreak at Life Care Center quickly spread to three other long-term care facilities in the region. In the months to follow, the center was then fined over $611,000 for a “slew of deficiencies” that spurred the spread of the virus among residents and workers.

In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concluded that Life Care Center did not properly report the outbreak for two weeks, provided “inadequate” care to its residents, and didn’t provide requisite round-the-clock emergency medical services.

That came after an investigation in early March concluded that Life Care Center showed few signs it was prepared for the outbreak at all, with many visitors to the facility telling the Associated Press they hadn’t noticed any unusual precautions in the days leading into the initial spread of the virus.

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Kirkland nursing home that was first epicenter of US COVID outbreak gets vaccine