Nursing homes work to control pandemic

By Kevin Beese Staff Reporter

Nursing home workers protest in advance of their planned walkout Friday, May 8. A deal reached less than 36 hours before their scheduled walkout kept more than 6,000 nursing home workers, belonging to SEIU Healthcare, on the job. Workers gained coronavirus hazard pay and additional sick days. (SEIU photo)

Although Alden Terrace is reporting more coronavirus cases than any other nursing home in McHenry County, its administrator said the facility has things well in hand.

“I feel we’ve reached our peak. It has definitely slowed, so we are hopeful,” Ed Alvarez, administrator of Alden Terrace, said. “Most residents and employees who had the virus have already recovered. Most of the employees who had it are already back at work, which is really, really exciting.”

During a phone call Friday night with the families of Alden Terrace residents, Alvarez said that everyone in the home is wearing masks and that residents and employees are having their temperature taken twice per day.

“We’re not putting our guard down,” Alvarez said.

The latest numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) show that the McHenry nursing home has 123 cases of COVID-19. Alvarez contends the actual number of patient cases of COVID-19 is less than half that amount.

“Any resident or employee who reports (coronavirus) symptoms we put on the list to the Illinois Department of Public Health,” he said. “We are almost overreporting. We want to make sure we are transparent with the agency and our families.”

He said Alden Terrace has only 47 residents and 22 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The IDPH numbers show that six residents of the McHenry facility have died from the coronavirus, statistics that Alvarez did not contest.

He said that the facility has been proactive in combating the pandemic, starting restrictions on visits in March even before the state mandate was issued. He said that the facility put a nurse practitioner in place to be the eyes and ears of physicians. Employees and residents have their temperature checked twice daily and everyone in the facility wears a mask.

“’We are ready to do whatever it takes to get through this,” Alvarez said. “… We followed all the recommendations and did more.”

Nursing homes throughout the state continue to take precautions in battling the coronavirus, which has proven fatal for some seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Strike averted

Some of those homes came within 36 hours of being short staff as more than 6,000 frontline caregivers were prepared to strike over contract and coronavirus concerns.

Workers were poised to walk off the job Friday morning at 64 facilities, mostly in Chicago and Cook County, but reaching as far as Rockford and Sandwich.

The SEIU Healthcare workers will get a higher base pay at $15 per hour as well as COVID-19 measures, including:

  • Hazard pay for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis
  • Additional fully paid sick days for COVID-19 testing, illness or quarantine for the duration of the crisis
  • Provisions ensuring that employees are not required to work without adequate personal protective equipment as determined by regulatory agencies for the duration of the crisis

“All of the major contract gains will help safeguard the health and safety of workers and the residents for which they care — at a time when both are vulnerable to the risks associated with COVID-19,” SEIU Healthcare said in a statement. “While residents are at increased risk of the virus due to age and compromised health, workers face increased negative impacts from coronavirus due to their history of poverty wages, lack of paid time off, and the underlying health conditions that often accompany poverty. Additionally, a majority of workers are African-American, and a disproportionate number of African-American lives have been claimed by COVID-19.”

Here is a look at how COVID-19 has impacted nursing homes in area counties:


No nursing home in the state has more coronavirus cases than Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

The latest IDPH numbers show that there were 183 reported cases of coronavirus at the 222-bed facility. The facility has also reported 17 coronavirus-related deaths.

People at the facility dying from COVID-19 increased 143 percent May 1-8, going from seven to 17. The number of COVID-19 cases at the Chicago home went up by 32 during that same one-week period, going from 151 to 183.

Families of patients at the facility have complained about a lack of information coming from Woodbridge regarding patients.

The facility does not have a website, and efforts to reach facility management were unsuccessful.


No facilities in DeKalb County have reported any coronavirus cases.


ManorCare in Hinsdale saw a 52 percent increase in cases in the one-week period, May 1-8.

In that stretch, the number of coronavirus cases at ManorCare went from 97 to 147. Nineteen residents of the Hinsdale facility have died of COVID-19.


Bria of Geneva has both the most coronavirus cases and the most coronavirus-related deaths of nursing homes in Kane County.

The Geneva facility saw a 31 percent increase in coronavirus deaths in the past week, going from 16 deaths as of May 1 to 21 deaths as of Friday. The facility only saw one new coronavirus case during that same stretch, putting the number of cases at the facility at 114.


COVID-19 cases have shot up more than 200 percent at Symphony at the Tillers in Oswego over the past week.

The facility went from six coronavirus cases as of May 1 to 19 as of Friday. Coronavirus-related deaths at the facility have gone from one as of May 1 to four as of Friday.

On April 20, Symphony Care Network announced it had named Dr. Alexander Stemer, an infectious disease expert, and Dr. Stacie Levine, chief of geriatrics and palliative care at University of Chicago Medicine, to lead its system-wide COVID-19 response team.

“It is hard to imagine a worse disease to afflict the sick and elderly than the COVID-19 virus,” Stemer said. “Dr. Levine and I are just part of a team of clinicians and experts who will share the most effective treatments and practices across the system to save lives. Everyone involved in fighting this virus — doctors, nurses and paramedics — are learning in the field every day how to effectively treat COVID-19 patients and control this disease, and we will share those findings daily.”


Elevate Care in Waukegan — the nursing home with the most reported coronavirus cases in Lake County — saw a 16 percent jump in cases in the past week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Waukegan home went from 62 cases as of May 1 to 72 cases as of Friday, according to IDPH. The home has seen seven of its residents die from COVID-19.

Elevate Care officials contend that as of Friday, its Waukegan facility had 37 confirmed resident cases and 36 confirmed employee cases of COVID-19.


Edwardsville Care Center had both the most coronavirus cases and the most coronavirus-related deaths in Madison County as of Friday, according to Illinois Department of Public Health numbers.

The facility had 91 COVID-19 cases and 17 virus-related deaths as of Friday, up one case and two deaths from figures released May 1.


Sheltered Village in Woodstock had more deaths related to COVID-19 as of Friday than any other nursing home in McHenry County.

Nine residents of the facility had died of the coronavirus as of Friday.


Luther Oaks in Bloomington is the only nursing home in McLean County that has reported any COVID-19 cases.

The Bloomington facility, as of Friday, had three coronavirus cases — the same number it reported to the state Department of Health on May 1. None of those patients has died, Luther Oaks officials said.


The high for cases at a nursing home in a county fell in Peoria County — the only area county to see such a drop. A week ago, Sharon Healthcare Willows in Peoria had the highest number of cases with 27. As of Friday, Generations of Peoria had the most COVID-19 cases in the county with 21.

St. Clair

COVID-19 deaths shot up 200 percent in the past week at Four Fountains nursing home in Belleville.

The facility had four reported COVID-19 deaths as of Friday, up from just one as of May 1.

The number of coronavirus cases as the facility rose from 49 on May 1 to 61 as of Friday.


Generations at Riverview in East Peoria had both the most COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 deaths for nursing homes in Tazewell County.

However, the home’s six cases and two deaths as of Friday stayed the same from a week earlier.


Alden Debes Rehab in Rockford reported three coronavirus-related deaths as of Friday when it had reported no deaths in its May 1 statistics.

The facility also saw a 36 percent increase in its number of COVID-19 cases, going from 14 as of May 1 to 19 as of Friday.

Anam Care Facility, also in Rockford, has also reported three resident deaths from COVID-19. The facility is reporting six total COVID-19 cases.


No nursing homes in Woodford County have reported any coronavirus cases.