Schatz Calls On Avalon Health Care To Review And Improve Infection Control Practices As COVID-19 Outbreaks Persist At All Three Of Its Nursing Homes In Hawai‘i

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) called on Avalon Health Care to review and improve its infection control policies and practices as all three of its facilities in Hawai‘i have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. The Utah-based company operates three facilities in Hawai‘i: Avalon Care Center and Hale Nani Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Honolulu, and the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo.

In a letter to Avalon’s CEO, Schatz wrote, “Given that outbreaks have occurred at all three of Avalon’s facilities in Hawai‘i, I am alarmed that Avalon’s facilities are not able to adequately protect its residents and staff. Therefore, I urge you to immediately review the practices, and in particular the staffing and infection control practices, at your facilities in Hawai‘i and in other states to identify and resolve any deficiencies that could result in the spread of COVID-19. Residents of nursing homes are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and each Avalon facility needs to be sufficiently prepared to keep its residents and staff safe during the pandemic.”

The latest COVID-19 outbreak at its Hilo facility has resulted in the death of at least nine residents and infected 59 residents and 19 staff members. As cases rose last week, Schatz called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to step in and provide support. They have since mobilized a medical team to assist and help save lives.

The full text of Schatz’s letter to Avalon Health Care is below and available here.


Dear Mr. Kirton:

I am writing because of serious concerns about Avalon Health Care’s policies and actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within its facilities. Avalon Health Care operates three facilities in Hawai‘i: Avalon Care Center - Honolulu, Hale Nani Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, and the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. Unfortunately, all three of these facilities have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, with the most recent at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

The outbreak at the state veterans home is tragic. As of today, more than 59 residents and 19 members of staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 9 residents have lost their lives, with several additional deaths likely a result of COVID-19. It is increasingly clear to me that the state home is understaffed and ill-equipped to stop this outbreak on its own. In order to stop this outbreak as soon as possible before more veterans and staff become sick and die, Avalon must make sure that every possible resource is available to this facility.

In addition, given that outbreaks have occurred at all three of Avalon’s facilities in Hawai‘i, I am alarmed that Avalon’s facilities are not able to adequately protect its residents and staff. Therefore, I urge you to immediately review the practices, and in particular the staffing and infection control practices, at your facilities in Hawai‘i and in other states to identify and resolve any deficiencies that could result in the spread of COVID-19. Residents of nursing homes are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and each Avalon facility needs to be sufficiently prepared to keep its residents and staff safe during the pandemic.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

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