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At least 28,100 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. The virus so far has infected more than 153,000 at some 7,700 facilities.

Illinois has not been left unscathed by the effect of this deadly virus on our most vulnerable population. The Center for Disease Control reports, indicate that Illinois Long-term care facilities now account for 48% of Illinois’, COVID-19 deaths overall.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is known to be particularly lethal to older adults with underlying health conditions, and can spread more easily through congregate facilities, where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room.

The Illinois Department of Public Health regulates all Illinois long term care facilities and thus they have a data base available on their website to educate you and your loved ones, regarding the status of Covid-19, in any particular nursing home. The information is available at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/long-term-care-facility-outbreaks-covid-19.

This pandemic has been particularly difficult for nursing home residents and their families given that since March most facilities are not allowing family members to visit nursing homes. This is particularly difficult for the residents, especially any residents who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other cognitive deficits. They might not understand why you’re not visiting, and you might feel guilty for not being able to see them as frequently as you used to.

Here at Dwyer & Coogan, we know how hard the pandemic is on nursing home residents and their families and we are here to answer any questions you may have with regard to you or your loved ones residency at an Illinois Nursing home during this time.

While it is impossible to have active face to face contact with your loved ones, know there are other ways to keep in touch such as phone calls, face times, zoom calls and even good old fashioned letters and cards. Some of the most poignant and heartfelt images I have seen have been family members set up outside a loved one’s nursing home window just to say Hi and to reassure their family member that they have not been forgotten. This difficult time, shall pass, so please know that all we can do in the meantime is do the best we can with all of the resources we have available to us.

Even though these are extremely hard nd unprecedented times, please know, residents in nursing homes still have the right to expect proper care. While preventing the development and spread of COVID-19, is difficult, it is not too much for you to expect that nursing homes are doing all that they possibly can to ensure the best care possible for your loved ones.

To do this, direct communication with facility staff, including the Director of Nursing and the administrative body of the home is absolutely crucial.

You have a right to ask the facility questions about what policies and procedures they have in place to prevent and control COVID-19, within the facility. Here are some things that nursing homes should be doing to comply with all the appropriate guidelines and recommendations:

•All staff should be provided with personal protective equipment, such as facemasks and gloves;
•All Staff should be directed to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after contact with each resident and after using or touching any medical equipment;

•A general wellness and temperature check should be taken of all staff as they report for duty;
•Residents should have access to hand sanitizer and or the ability to wash their hands regularly. If residents are not able to practice safe hand washing etiquette, then carer’s should assist them with this task;

•Medical equipment that is being used between residents and areas of the facility should be cleaned and disinfected after each use;
•Practice safe social distancing if residents are congregated together in one area, such as dining or day rooms;
•Nursing homes should be completing special assessments which have been developed by the Federal Government to ensure that the facility’s infection control plan and protections are adequate to both prevent and control Covid-19;
•Nursing homes should be communicating with local and state Departments of Health and the CDC and should be sharing data regarding the number of Covid-19 cases within the facility, this includes communicating with family members.

If you have concerns about any of your loved ones currently in an Illinois Nursing Home, or are concerned about the manner in which the Nursing home is communicating with you, please do not hesitate to reach out. As always, all of our consultations are free.

*Caroleann Gallagher
is an Irish born Attorney now licensed in Illinois and practicing all types of personal injury law – including nursing home litigation, medical malpractice law, wrongful death claims, transportation injuries, premises liability claims, defective product claims, construction site injuries and Workers Compensation. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 312-543-4642

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