Nursing Homes Tied To More Than Half Of COVID-19 Deaths In Illinois

Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook via Google Earth
Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook, about 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, accounts for 40 coronavirus deaths, more than any other long-term-care facility in the state according to Illinois public-health data. Google Maps
Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook via Google Earth
Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook, about 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, accounts for 40 coronavirus deaths, more than any other long-term-care facility in the state according to Illinois public-health data. Google Maps

Nursing Homes Tied To More Than Half Of COVID-19 Deaths In Illinois

Nursing homes now account for more than half of Illinois deaths with a confirmed link to COVID-19, a WBEZ analysis of state data shows.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday afternoon posted data showing that 2,747 — or 52.1% — of the state’s 5,270 coronavirus deaths are tied to long-term-care facilities, assisted-living establishments and other nursing homes.

That percentage has risen every week since April 19, when IDPH began posting the number of COVID-19 deaths and illnesses tied to nursing homes.

Outside the seven-county Chicago metropolitan area, nursing homes account for an even larger majority, 70.2%, of coronavirus deaths, according to WBEZ’s analysis. The non-metro counties with the most nursing-home deaths are St. Clair with 50, Madison, 47; Kankakee, 32; Winnebago, 30; Sangamon, 24 and Rock Island, 21.

Statewide, 25 nursing homes have at least 20 coronavirus deaths each. All but three of those facilities are in the Chicago area.

The nursing home with the state’s highest death count is Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook, a facility with 298 licensed beds about 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Meadowbrook is tied to 40 coronavirus fatalities and 188 cases.

The next-highest coronavirus death tally is at Villa at Windsor Park, a 240-bed facility in the city’s South Shore neighborhood that is linked to 37 fatalities.

The downstate homes with the most deaths are Villa East, a 109-bed facility near Springfield with 23 fatalities; Edwardsville Care Center, a 120-bed home with 22 deaths; and Four Fountains, a 156-bed facility in Belleville with 20 deaths.

The IDPH says nursing homes in the state are linked to 17,133 laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases.

The leader for cases remains the state-owned Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center, a 510-bed facility in south suburban Park Forest that houses people with intellectual disabilities. Ludeman has had 316 cases and 10 deaths tied to the virus.

The IDPH posting includes both nursing home residents and staff members but does not distinguish between the two.

COVID-19 cases have appeared in 535 of the roughly 1,500 long-term-care and assisted-living sites in Illinois, state data show. The stricken sites include 430 in the seven-county Chicago area and 105 in the rest of the state.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration in April said it was requiring additional safety measures and planning to provide coronavirus testing in all nursing homes.

On Thursday, however, Pritzker said some privately run facilities had refused the state help. He also announced an emergency rule that pushes the testing responsibility to the nursing homes themselves.

The Health Care Council of Illinois, a trade group for nursing homes, later issued a statement that did not address the governor’s criticism.

“We encouraged facility-wide testing since the beginning, and many facilities have proactively contracted with laboratories or partnered with hospitals to test residents and staff,” council spokeswoman Pat Comstock said in the statement.

“In accordance with this new regulation, nursing homes will submit testing plans to the state and welcome feedback from epidemiologists and other public health experts,” Comstock said.

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

Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about criminal justice. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.