A sign outside the Dominican Oaks retirement community in Santa Cruz on Dec. 18, 2020.
Residents of Dominican Oaks, a retirement community in Santa Cruz, received letters this week saying there had been “a small number of” COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Dominican Oaks reports ‘small number’ of cases, details unclear

Officials at Dominican Oaks, a senior living facility near Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, told residents in a letter Sunday that the facility has had “a small number of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.”

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Although the latest state data doesn’t show any cases there, that may be because the facility has both assisted living and independent living apartments. Cases for each are reported to different state agencies.

In a Jan. 3 memo with the subject line “Rumors and Information,” obtained by Lookout, Deborah Routley, the administrator for Dominican Oaks, asked residents to refrain from spreading private information about others’ health conditions related to the coronavirus.

“As you know, we have had a small number of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff,” she wrote. “Our top priority remains your health and protection. In all cases of COVID-19, we are conducting rigorous contact tracing and are immediately notifying anyone who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person within the building.

Dominican Oaks is a large facility with 206 apartments, of which 142 are licensed for assisted living. It is staffed by about 100 employees. Officials have yet to say how many cases have occurred, or identify whether those cases have involved residents or staff.

“For anyone exposed, we are providing support as they enter quarantine or are helping to coordinate medical care on their behalf,” Routley wrote.

In the letter, she explained that the facility can’t share with residents specific details regarding the health of any resident or staff member due to federal privacy laws.

Routley added that it can be “very hurtful and possibly harmful to others” to spread information or rumors.

“I ask that you please refrain from this behavior, and instead come to me with any questions or concerns you have,” the letter said.

Routley also asked residents to continue to observe state and local public health guidelines. “By following these guidelines, we can all help stop the spread of this virus in our community and save lives.”

Unlike other senior living facilities, Dominican Oaks has been largely spared from an outbreak of the virus. The facility informed its residents in early December that a “community member” had tested positive for COVID-19. “We want you to know that the person has not been in the building since December 9th and will not return until the isolation period has passed and they are cleared to return to Dominican Oaks,” Routley wrote in a different memo at the time.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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