CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s no secret that the elderly are high-risk when it comes to COVID-19, which is why Pamela Johnson took proactive steps to get free testing for the residents in her senior living facility in the South Loop. However, for some reason, she couldn’t get approval from the facility’s management company.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas finds out why Senior Suites of Central Station stalled for so long.
“I can’t even tell you how frustrated I feel,” Johnson said.
Imagine getting a note under your door about a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your building
“One case confirmed just means that’s the one we know about. What about the ones we don’t know about?” Johnson said.
She was right, because a few weeks later, around the end of May, she and other residents received a memo about another confirmed case.
“Now I panic,” she said. “Our age is a risk factor; everyone here is 62 or older.”
They also have pre-existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus.
”We have people here who are on portable oxygen,” Johnson said. “And everybody is just not mobile.”
This scenario is a reality for Johnson and her fellow residents in the Senior Suites of Central Station.
As a retired nurse, Johnson said she’s concerned about her neighbors.
“It’s a nurse thing,” she said.
She wanted to get them tested for COVID-19 to prevent the virus from spreading further. So, when she found a nearby doctor’s office offering free testing, she reached out.
“When she kind of told me this is what she’s facing, I’m like, ‘Of course,’” said Dr. Rinku Shah, a primary care physician with Clear Wellness Group. “We’re only two blocks from the location.”
Shah even offered to bring the testing to the Senior Suites building.
“We have the capability of going off-site, making it as convenient for people. We do realize that, for this population, even if it’s two blocks, they might not be able to make it here,” Shah said.
Johnson thought the management company would leap at this opportunity, especially considering their track record.
“They have had insurance companies come in here trying to get us to buy Medicare Advantage plans,” Johnson said. “They’ve had people selling life insurance. They’ve had home care agencies trying to sell their stuff.”
So she and Shah reached out about the free testing, but Johnson said “nothing has happened since.”
No follow-up or urgency to get these at-risk residents tested.
“I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all,” Johnson said.
Right after CBS 2 interviewed Johnson, a manager approved the free testing. Asked for an explanation about the delay, they said they were doing their due diligence to ensure the testing would be done safely.