CHICAGO (CBS) — Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is asking the Illinois Department of Public Health to investigate the Symphony of Joliet, in the wake of 23 deaths from COVID-19 at the nursing home.
Earlier this week, officials at Symphony confirmed 22 residents and one staff member have died of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday, O’Dekirk said he has talked to Gov. JB Pritzker about the situation, and requested a full investigation by IDPH.
“Since this came to light, I have spoken with several first responders on the Joliet Fire Department who have related really concerning stories about what they have observed at the Symphony of Joliet,” O’Dekirk said.
O’Dekirk said the Joliet Police Department would assist in the investigation if needed.
“Right now, I think this is a matter for health officials to get involved, and start untangling the mess of what happened inside that nursing home,” he said.
Joliet Fire Chief Chief Greg Blaskey said, in the past five weeks, the fire department has responded to 31 calls for service at Symphony of Joliet, including 10 for patients who were breathing but unresponsive, seven patients having difficulty breathing, and four patients in cardiac arrest.
Symphony of Joliet spokeswoman Lauryn Allison said earlier this week that, before the COVID-19 outbreak, there were about 165 residents at the 200 bed facility. Allison said 37 residents who have tested negative for COVID-19 were moved to other Symphony locations, and 16 patients who have tested positive remain at the nursing home.
A nursing assistant who worked for two days recently on a contract was driven to tears after what she saw. Days before, residents who were generally independent had become gravely sick, she said.
“Everybody was sick,” she said.
Allison had a message for loved ones: “We’re with you. We are also concerned. We will do all we can to protect your loved ones. They are our loved ones, too.”
O’Dekirk said Joliet has had 384 confirmed cases of COVID-19 overall, including 35 deaths.
There also have been dozens of confirmed cases at Joliet nursing homes, but no other deaths; including 22 cases at Presence Villa Franciscan, six at The PARC at Joliet, one at Spring Creek Nursing and Rehab, one at Salem Village Nursing & Rehab, and four at Sunny Hill Nursing Home.
The outbreak at Symphony of Joliet is one of the largest and deadliest at a nursing home in the U.S.
A COVID-19 outbreak at Chateau Nursing And Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, infected 54 people — 35 patients and 19 staff — with COVID-19. At least 10 residents from that facility have died, according to the DuPage County Health Department.
Outside Richmond, Virgina, 45 residents of Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center have died of COVID-19. According to published reports, that is believed to be the worst outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing facility. The first known major outbreak of the novel coronavirus occurred at a nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, where 37 people died. In Anderson, Indiana, 22 people at the Bethany Pointe nursing home have died.