(The Center Square) – With more than half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths from nursing homes, totaling around 3,400, at least one person is calling for an investigation into how Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration directed nursing homes to accept patients that were once hospitalized for the respiratory illness.
The latest death toll in long-term care facilities the Illinois Department of Public Health reported was 3,433. There have been 6,485 total deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Illinois. That’s around 53 percent of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths being reported from nursing homes.
Pritzker said Wednesday he didn't know off-hand how many COVID-19 hospitalized seniors were sent back to long-term care facilities.
“I don’t right here have that number,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Chicago.
When asked if there was a directive from the state to senior care facilities to accept residents back that had been hospitalized for COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Public Health said the administration provided guidance for the transfer of patients from hospital settings to skilled and intermediate long-term care facilities based on federal guidelines.
The patients who were sent to the hospital for COVID-19 infections stayed there until they recovered, Pritzker said. After that, he said such patients were isolated back in nursing homes.
“Each nursing home has a slightly different measure depending on multiple floors, or wings on one floor,” Pritzker said. “You don’t remain COVID-positive after you’ve recovered for very long at all in fact, and so they’re trying to take a measure of what the science says and act upon that at the nursing home.”
Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski has been tracking all Illinois COVID data.
“The numbers continue to grow in terms of the share of deaths from retirement homes,” Dabrowski said. “I don’t know if there’s been a plan put in place to end it.”
Dabrowski said Pritzker’s administration is trying to use the federal guidelines as cover.
“It’s not genuine for Governor Pritzker to look to CDC and [Centers for Medicaid Services] and blame them for what’s been now 3,400 deaths in Illinois retirement homes,” Dabrowski said. “We knew this was a crisis coming, it was telegraphed, and yet as a state Governor Pritzker and his team did not take stricter measures to ensure that this virus wasn’t spread and here we are a few months later.”
With as much as Pritzker criticized his predecessor over a fatal outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease over several years at the state-run Quincy Veterans’ Home, Dabrowski said the governor should be demanding an investigation himself.
“Here we have multiples of that issue and yet we’re not having an investigation,” Dabrowski said. “The untold story of this crisis right now is half of Illinois deaths are coming from retirement homes and Governor Pritzker should himself be demanding an investigation to find out what happened.”