COVID-19 Spreads Into Nearly A Third Of Illinois Nursing Homes

Center Home for Hispanic Elderly, 1401 N. California Ave.
Center Home for Hispanic Elderly, 1401 N. California Ave. in Chicago, has had 26 fatalities stemming from COVID-19, according to Illinois public-health data. The 156-bed facility is tied with Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook for the most nursing home deaths linked to the virus. Chip Mitchell / WBEZ
Center Home for Hispanic Elderly, 1401 N. California Ave.
Center Home for Hispanic Elderly, 1401 N. California Ave. in Chicago, has had 26 fatalities stemming from COVID-19, according to Illinois public-health data. The 156-bed facility is tied with Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook for the most nursing home deaths linked to the virus. Chip Mitchell / WBEZ

COVID-19 Spreads Into Nearly A Third Of Illinois Nursing Homes

The novel coronavirus has sickened people in nearly a third of Illinois nursing homes, a WBEZ analysis of state data shows.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday afternoon posted data showing laboratory-confirmed cases in 460 — more than 31% — of the state’s 1,470 long-term-care facilities and assisted-living establishments.

Nursing homes accounted for 1,975 — nearly 49% — of the state’s 4,058 coronavirus deaths.

Two Chicago-area facilities led the state for COVID-19 deaths tied to nursing homes, according to the IDPH figures.

Center Home for Hispanic Elderly, a 156-bed facility at 1401 N. California Ave. in Chicago, had 26 coronavirus deaths and 62 confirmed cases. IDPH records identify the center’s licensee as a limited liability company owned in part by Shimon Webster, Yeruchom Levovitz and Howard L. Wengrow.

The center’s administrator, Juvenal Gonzalez, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment about the illnesses and fatalities.

Tied with that facility for COVID-19 deaths was Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook, a 298-bed facility at 431 W. Remington Blvd., about 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Meadowbrook also had 184 confirmed cases of the illness, according to the IDPH records.

Meadowbrook Manor’s licensee, Naperville-based Butterfield Health Care, Inc., is owned by Robert Jafari, Dorothy Vangel, Kianoosh Jafari, Soussan Jafari, Nicholas A. Vangel, Sasha E. Dimas, Sean W. Dimas and Ashley M. Dimas, according to IDPH records.

A written statement from Meadowbrook Manor spokeswoman Marissa Kaplan said “an overwhelming majority of our residents and staff remain safe and stable.”

“When the state recently began offering testing about two weeks ago for skilled nursing facilities, we were among the first nursing homes to welcome broad testing for our residents and staff,” Kaplan said in the statement.

“As testing ramps up, no facility will be immune to the impact of COVID-19, or the loss of life that comes from it,” Kaplan said. “But at Meadowbrook, we take each loss to heart, regardless of whether it [is] our residents who passed here or in most cases, after leaving here to only pass away at a nearby hospital.”

The next-highest coronavirus death counts, both 25, were at Glenview Terrace Nursing Center, a north suburban home, and Symphony of Joliet, a southwest suburban facility, according to the state records.

Four nursing homes had 24 deaths each: The Villa at Windsor Park in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, Elevate Care Chicago North in the city’s West Ridge community, Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in the Logan Square neighborhood, and ManorCare Hinsdale, a facility in DuPage County.

Illinois had 13,218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 tied to nursing homes by Friday, up from 11,437 a week earlier, according to the data.

The leader for confirmed cases remained the state-owned Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center, a 510-bed facility in south suburban Park Forest. Ludeman, which houses individuals with intellectual disabilities, had 268 cases and 6 deaths tied to the virus.

Next were City View Multicare Center in west suburban Cicero, which had 242 cases and 10 deaths, followed by the Woodbridge facility and the Meadowbrook home.

Tied in fourth and fifth place for COVID-19 illnesses were Symphony at Midway on Chicago’s Southwest Side and Symphony at Morgan Park on the South Side, both listed with 177 cases and 12 deaths.

IDPH began posting the number of coronavirus deaths and illnesses tied to nursing homes on April 19. The figures cover both residents and staff members at the sites but do not distinguish between the two.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration says it has stepped up coronavirus testing in nursing homes, required additional safety measures and shipped personal protective equipment to the facilities.

The Health Care Council of Illinois, a trade group for nursing homes in the state, said they were doing their best to fight the virus and protect employees.

But some nursing home workers have accused their employers of providing insufficient staffing and personal protective equipment. They have also alleged underreporting of COVID-19 deaths and illnesses.

A union for 10,000 nursing-home workers in the state called off a strike that was scheduled to begin May 8 and declared victory during talks to replace an expired contract.

A tentative two-year agreement lifts pay, sets up hazard bonuses and expands sick-leave benefits for certified nursing assistants, housekeepers, dietary aides, laundry workers and activity aides in about 100 nursing homes, mostly in the Chicago area.

Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio. WBEZ Data Editor Elliott Ramos contributed data analysis. Follow them at @ChipMitchell1 and @ChicagoEl.