Senior care facility charged in connection with 14 COVID-related deaths

A senior care facility and three managers were charged in connection with 14 COVID-related deaths at its facility. 

LA County DA George Gascón announced the charges Tuesday against Silverado Senior Living Management, Inc. Loren Bernard Shook, 72, Jason Michael Russo, 49, and Kimberly Cheryl Butrum, 67, were charged with felony counts of elder endangerment and five felony counts of violation causing death. The company is also facing the same charges.

According to the complaint, in March 2020, Silverado admitted a new resident from a psychiatric unit in New York City, which was a COVID-19 epicenter at the time. When that person arrived to the company’s Beverly Place facility in the Fairfax District, they allegedly were not medically assessed for the virus or other conditions.

That person began displaying COVID symptoms the following morning and tested positive for the virus. After the resident displayed symptoms of COVID, they were allegedly not placed into respiratory isolation, the complaint alleges. 

The managers are accused of not following clinical standards and did not take appropriate steps to quarantine the new resident or require testing prior to admission. 

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The complaint also alleges that the facility failed to prohibit entry to individuals who had been on domestic or international travel within the last 14 days to areas where COVID cases have been confirmed.

As a result, there was an outbreak where 14 people, ranging in age from 32 to 94, died. All were residents except for 32-year-old Brittany Ringo, a vocational nurse. Her family is part of a civil lawsuit against Silverado.  

Forty-five employees and 60 residents were also infected and sickened by the virus, according to the complaint. 

Attorney Jodie Moore represents seven of the victims, including Helena Apothaker, whose mother, Catherine, died at Silverado in April 2020 after contracting COVID.

"It spread like wildfire, and my mother passed away 30 days pretty much to the day that the man was let into the building,," Apothaker told FOX 11.  

"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 Gascón said. "These careless decisions created conditions that needlessly exposed Silverado staff and its residents to serious injury and – tragically – death."

Gascón called it one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 at any senior living care facility in California.