County of Marin - News Releases - Skilled Nursing During COVID-19

For Immediate Release
May 01, 2020

Senior Care Sites a Prime Focus in COVID-19 Response

Marin hospitals & public health support facilities with prevention, detection and mitigation measures

San Rafael, CA – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit senior living facilities especially hard across the nation, and in Marin County. With nearly 30% of the local population over the age of 60, Marin is home to nearly 70 licensed senior care facilities.

To meet the challenge of preventing and controlling outbreaks in those settings, Marin hospitals and public health have combined forces in a mobile team to provide on-site support to senior residential facilities in prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19.

The team is comprised of staff from MarinHealth, Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center, Marin Community Clinics, and Marin County Public Health and has visited more than 40 facilities and performed over 300 tests since its formation in late March. Services include on-site assistance in infection control and prevention measures, providing necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), assistance in outbreak control, and testing of staff and residents. Daily support is provided throughout and after any outbreak.

“It’s inspiring to be working alongside doctors and nurses from across the county,” said Dr. Elizabeth Lowe, a MarinHealth Primary Care Physician. “We’re all one team fighting this together."

Typically, implementing a coordinated approach at a facility can be challenging as both staff and residents of any one facility have different health providers. A multi-agency team, however, allows for a single coordinated plan to make sure it can act quickly on-site without having to go back to different providers to order tests and follow up.

“Six weeks ago, we launched this effort to bring together all three Marin hospitals, our public health colleagues and our residential care facilities with the goal of both protecting these vulnerable residents and providing them with skilled, compassionate care should they become ill,” said Dr. David Miller, Infectious Disease Specialist with Kaiser Permanente. “We are fortunate to have such wonderful partners, and we are seeing the benefits of our work.” 

“It’s a double challenge because these facilities have people living together in close quarters, which increases the risk of rapid spread,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “At the same time many residents are at high risk of more severe disease if they are exposed. This is the real frontline of our pandemic response in Marin right now.”

The stage was set for this collaboration in the long standing Marin County Healthcare Preparedness Program (HPP). Under Marin County Public Health, HPP convenes Marin’s hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, healthcare clinics and long-term care facilities to conduct exercises in crisis response scenarios including earthquake, fire and or a pandemic.

“It’s important to acknowledge the tireless work of our health care workers who are making this coordinated effort possible,” said Dr. Eric Pifer, Chief Medical Officer, MarinHealth Medical Center and Chief Executive Officer, MarinHealth Medical Network. “They are among our most dedicated and impressive heroes in this battle against COVID-19.”


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website