Santa Barbara Cottage Rehab Closed to New Admissions

13-Case Outbreak Occurs at Rehab Facility

Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital | Credit: Google Maps

In response to COVID-positive test results among 14 patients and staff at the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital (CRH), Cottage has announced it will be shutting the rehab center to new admissions. Cottage stated it will continue to treat existing patients. 

In response to media questions, Cottage issued the following statement: “As of today, CRH remains open for care of our current patients and we are pausing new admissions at CRH while we continue additional focused testing as precaution over the next week.” No breakdown was provided as to how many of the 14 cases were staff and how many were patients.

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According to unconfirmed sources, the outbreak began last week. All patients are tested before they can be admitted; in fact, two negative test results are required for admittance. In spite of this protocol, one patient tested positive after having been admitted. That patient’s roommate then tested positive as well. According to unconfirmed sources as many as four patients had been infected and as many as 10 staff members.

Cottage quickly transferred all positive patients to the main hospital for treatment and maintenance. All infected staff were ordered quarantined. Again, according to unconfirmed sources, Cottage stopped taking new patients but took steps to reduce the number of existing inpatient clients, while suspending outpatient care, as well. The goal is reportedly to get the premises as clean as possible.

According to the statement, Cottage’s infection prevention and control team completed “thorough contract testing and repeated testing” after a COVID-19 case was diagnosed at the CRH. That protocol revealed that the number of infections was 13. Cottage’s statement stressed the importance of masking, handwashing, and social distancing, stating they helped protect both staff and patients. The CRH typically has a licensed capacity of 38 beds but currently operates with a maximum of 30.

The CRH fulfills a vital function within Santa Barbara’s constellation of health-care services, providing treatment for stroke survivors, accident survivors, and people who need skilled therapies for surgical recovery. Without CRH, a significant bottleneck exists for those patients, their families, and their providers.

In response to increased concern about higher positive test numbers throughout the county, Cottage has cross-trained 50 additional staff at its downtown hospital in order to have the staffing necessary should the need arise. Cottage currently has 57 ICU beds, 22 of which are now available. Currently, there is no shortage of bed space, supplies, or staffing. But as demand for ICU beds intensifies throughout the state and country, medical-health experts have cautioned that trained staff could be among the most important resource. If it came to that, Cottage, in a written statement, expressed little  optimism that it could hire visiting nurses or other personnel to supplement Cottage’s existing roster because the demand is so intense everywhere. Given that the Rehab Hospital runs at below capacity, however, that creates extra give in the system.

“We have surge plans in place to be prepared for community needs,” Cottage said in a statement. To help “partner” with Cottage, the statement asked members of the community to protect health-care resources by “avoiding gatherings” to “help stop the rapid spread of COVID infections that lead to more people being hospitalized with severe illnesses.” As of December 8, Cottage had 29 confirmed COVID patients.  

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