Symphony nursing home chain has 5 homes in Chicago among state’s 25 hardest hit by COVID

In April, a coronavirus outbreak killed 24 residents and two employees of the Symphony of Joliet nursing home.

In April, a coronavirus outbreak killed 24 residents and two employees of the Symphony of Joliet nursing home. | Scott Olson / Getty Images

The Lincolnwood-based company has had 147 coronavirus deaths and 1,016 coronavirus cases involving residents and workers, Illinois Department of Public Health data show.

Five Chicago nursing homes run by Symphony Care Network are among the top 25 in Illinois for coronavirus cases and deaths, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of state data.

The Lincolnwood-based chain — which operates 29 nursing homes in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan — has had 147 coronavirus deaths and 1,016 coronavirus cases involving residents and workers, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Symphony was tragically unprepared to deal with any kind of communicable disease and even more tragically unprepared to deal with this deadly communicable disease called COVID-19,” says Steven Levin, an attorney who has sued Symphony and other nursing home operators over coronavirus deaths.

But Dr. Alexander Stemer, who leads Symphony’s COVID-19 task force, says dealing with the threat of the coronavirus has been a huge challenge.

“This is a disease that fights back,” says Stemer, who is an infectious diseases expert. “An incredible burden is placed on the facilities. We have done so much more than was being done four, five, six months ago.”

Symphony Care Network
Dr. Alexander Stemer.

As is the case with many health care operators, Symphony appears to be struggling financially in the face of the pandemic. Invesque, a landlord for 16 Symphony facilities, is reducing its investment in the chain.

“The pandemic has taken a meaningful toll in the operations of the Symphony portfolio, including reduced occupancy and increased operating expenses,” Invesque CEO Scott White said in a Nov. 12 call with financial analysts.

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One financial hurdle, a company spokeswoman says, is that the state of Illinois owes Symphony $30 million for Medicaid care going back to 2010.

In April, Symphony of Joliet was one of the first nursing homes to suffer a major outbreak of the coronavirus. Twenty-four residents and two workers died in the outbreak, which the company blamed on a maintenance worker who became a “super-spreader” while setting up dining tables in rooms. The worker died of the disease.

Levin & Perconti
David Mitchell, 84, a resident of the Symphony of Joliet nursing home, died of the coronavirus on April 7. Steven Levin, a lawyer who has sued Symphony and other nursing home operators over coronavirus deaths, has filed a wrongful-death claim against the company on behalf of Mitchell’s survivors.

As a result, company officials said they began checking temperatures of workers and residents and requiring employees to wear protective clothing.

Symphony hasn’t reported any more COVID-19 deaths at its Joliet long-term facility.

Despite being categorized as long-term facilities, Stemer says Symphony’s nursing homes in Chicago don’t operate that way. They serve acute rehabilitation patients, which means there’s frequent turnover of patients coming in and leaving, making infection control more difficult, Stemer says. …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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