Across the U.S., almost 50,000 people have died of COVID-19 in long term care facilities.
In Illinois, these centers account for over half of the state’s deaths.
Nursing homes face major struggles as they try to keep the virus away from our most vulnerable populations.
“My mother is currently in St. John’s hospital, in the ICU, on a vent, fighting for her life right now,” Brandy Brown said.
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Brown’s mother has been a resident at the Auburn Rehabilitation and Health Care Center since 2012.
Brown doesn’t want her mother to become another one of these statistics.
“We’re just trying to get through to see if she’s going to make it,” Brown said. “And if she does, then I’m gonna have to face the question of, do I send her back, do I send her somewhere else?”
Many families are struggling with that same question.
Nursing homes across Illinois have been a hub for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 55% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths were long-term care facility residents.
In Sangamon County, the proportion is well above that, sitting at 70%.
The proportion in Macon County is even higher. Almost 82% of their COVID-19 deaths came from senior care centers.
“Unfortunately, they learned a lot from us because we were one of the first ones,” said The Villa Senior Care Community President and CEO Rick Edwards.
The Villas in Sherman made headlines with their coronavirus outbreak at the beginning of the pandemic.
Edwards said care facilities like his are doing the best they can, but he thinks the state needs to step up.
“I think preparedness needs to start at the top,” Edwards said. “But I don’t mean our organization, I mean DPH, CMS…they need to be better prepared.”
Edwards said his best advice to facilities just starting the ordeal The Villas went through is to work with local health departments and remember the job they were trusted to do.
“Whether you lose one or 10, it’s family. You lose family,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the loss never gets easier, but residents and staff at The Villas are grateful they got through the situation and have positive attitudes.
Brown agrees the facilities need to keep their focus on the residents.
“They kept family out for four months,” Brown said, citing statewide quarantines in care centers. “They took four months away from us that we may never get back.”
Brown said doctors were planning on removing her mother’s ventilator Monday morning to see how she was breathing on her own.
There are currently 12 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in Sangamon and Macon Counties.
The outbreak at the Auburn Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, where Brown’s mother resides, is one of them.
The Villas no longer has any positive COVID-19 cases.
Source: News Channel20