Ten residents of the Gordon Manor assisted living facility in Redwood City have died over the last few weeks as a result of complications from COVID-19, including neurobiologist and former Stanford president Donald Kennedy, 88.
About 20 residents and seven staff members of the facility at 1616 Gordon St. have tested positive for COVID-19, said Facility Director Alisa Mallari Tu. The San Mateo County Health Department has deployed a team of clinicians to the facility to support care and monitoring of patients.
Nursing homes across the nation have been ravaged by the pandemic. A recent report by The Wall Street Journal said over 10,000 nursing home residents have died after being infected with the virus. On April 15, San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow implemented enhanced efforts to protect residential care facilities.
In a phone interview, an emotional Tu expressed gratitude to public health officials and her staff for continuing to care for residents at a difficult time.
“Our staff are courageous, hardworking and incredibly caring,” Tu said. “They come here really because they want to, they feel a duty because they love [residents], and under these conditions it’s so difficult.”
Social distancing and other measures, while necessary, are meanwhile posing a challenge for residents at Gordon Manor.
“We used to gather for live music, have birthday parties, dance together, sing together, congregate in the garden, have tea parties, do art classes,” Tu said, adding the human connection is particularly beneficial for residents with dementia. “It’s just really challenging right now.”
Gordon Manor has operated in the Redwood City for many years, and is very much part of the tightly knit community, Tu said. At the facility, Tu said she cared for one of her physical education coaches who taught her at Woodside High, and who also happened to be her homecoming date’s grandmother.
More caregivers are needed on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle, Tu said.
“We’re all in this together,” she said.
Here is Tu’s official statement on the COVID-19 crisis impacting Gordon Manor:
“We are emotionally devastated by the reality of coronavirus in our community and in the many other senior and group communities like ours. We are grieving the loss of our ability to celebrate birthdays together, dance and sing together, and share our meals together. Our population might be considered vulnerable, but our residents are filled with history, humor, love, and wisdom, that we, as their caregivers, get to experience every day. Our sole purpose through this extremely difficult time is to focus all of our efforts on the well-being of our beloved residents and their dear families, as well as our incredibly dedicated and courageous staff members who bravely, every day and every night, come in to work to care for our residents. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the skill and expertise that are supporting us and to those community leaders, public health and emergency agencies who recognized the threat and have mobilized to stabilize our community. We are so very grateful to our volunteers, donations of personal protective equipment, food and drink, and especially to our precious families who continue to encourage us and nurture us with their support. We will never be the same, but then again, none of us will be.”