Prosecutors in Los Angeles County announced felony charges Tuesday in connection with a Covid-19 outbreak at an upscale assisted living facility.
The charges levied by the L.A. County District Attorney’s office include felony elder management. They follow a two-and-a-half year investigation into the outbreak early in the pandemic at the Silverado Senior Management facility. Three managers at the facility have been charged: CEO Loren Shook, Administrator Jason Russo and Vice President Kimberly Butrum.
“The investigation revealed that the Silverado management team was aware of the risks associated with admitting a new resident from a high-risk area and failed to follow the appropriate procedures to protect their employees and the vulnerable people in their care,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “These careless decisions created conditions that needlessly exposed Silverado staff and its residents to serious injury and—tragically—death.”
Some 60 residents and 45 staffers at Silverado Beverly Place contracted the virus—and 13 residents and a 32-year-old nurse died—in what Gascón called “one of the worst outbreaks” of Covid-19 at a California assisted living facility.
Prosecutors say the facility admitted a new resident on March 19, 2020, despite protocols that had been put in place to limit outside visitors, including patients. The facility failed to test the new patient for Covid, or quarantine the patient for 14 days prior to admission. The patient began showing symptoms a day after admission and tested positive for Covid that evening.
Nurse Brittany Ringo was ordered to admit the new patient, prosecutors say. Gascón further added that the patient had come “directly to the facility from the airport” after arriving in California from a Covid-19 “hotspot” in New York City. Ringo tested positive on March 25 and died on April 20.
Pointing to “financial considerations” factoring into the decision to accept the patient, Gascón said, “We believe that Silverado put the interests and financial gain in profit over the safety considerations for their patients and employees.”
Silverado Vice President and spokesperson Jeff From said in a statement that the facility denies all charges, calling them “baseless” and that they “egregiously contradict the facts.”
The facility specializes in elder care for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to prosecutors, who added that the case was treated as an industrial workplace accident.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health led the two-year-long investigation, which was delayed due to Covid restrictions at the time and due to several employees leaving the facility, according to prosecutors.