CHICAGO (CBS) — COVID-19 cases are again surging in Chicago area nursing homes, and workers in the facilities are in dire need of emergency supplies.
On Monday, CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey dug into what is being done to stop this alarming second wave. Industry advocates argue that the state and federal government can do more to help control the spreading infections at facilities in Illinois.
The nursing homes with the most cases so far this year are in Cook County, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Among the nursing homes with the most positive cases, Symphony of Morgan Park has seen 202 cases and 26 deaths. Cook Aperion Care International of Chicago 196 cases and 27 deaths. Symphony of South Shore has seen 188 and 29 deaths.
Norridge Gardens has had the most deaths – 46 lives lost so far during the pandemic, and 167 cases in all.
“We’re taking temperatures and vitals of outpatients and staff multiple times a day,” said Dr. Alexander Stemer, infectious disease expert at Symphony Care Network.
On Monday, Symphony told us they hired Stemer to run their taskforce, and explained that the case numbers are cumulative. The current outbreak at Symphony of Morgan Park involves only two positive COVID cases, while South Shore has 11 positive cases.
Symphony also told us that friends and family visits are completely suspended.
Norridge Gardens created a specialized COVID-19 unit in May.
But we wanted to know – what else can be done?
“We really need to stop repeating the mistake that was made in the spring, when we didn’t prioritize nursing homes as a second front line in the war and COVID,” said Paul Gaynor of the nonprofit Healthcare Heroes Illinois.
Healthcare Heroes Illinois has asked the state and federal government to help expedite testing, provide more personal protective equipment and to enact legal protections to stop employees from being targeted by predatory lawsuits.
Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers pledged an additional $80 million to support skilled nursing facilities. And last month, Indiana sent in 1,300 members of the Indiana National Guard to help the hardest hit facilities.
“And we’ve kind of been left to fend for ourselves and haven’t been provided the resources – or the support, I should say – that other institutions and other states are have been, you know, been given,” Gaynor said.
Facilities report data to their local health departments, which in turn report to Illinois Department of Public Health, so lag time and discrepancies are to be expected.
A “current outbreak” is defined as a positive test within the last 28 days.
Hickey reached out to Gov. JB Pritzker’s office about providing additional support. She was still waiting for a response Monday evening.
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Source: CBS Chicago