Madison County nursing home reports remarkable turnaround after state health investigation

FOX Files

GRANITE CITY, Ill. – Stearns Nursing and Rehab in Granite City once had a COVID outbreak of 111 cases, according the Illinois Department of Public Health. Stearns reports a dramatic improvement, saying it now has only one COVID positive resident (the home says the person was admitted from the hospital with the diagnosis). 

Stearns is also reporting zero COVID positive employees at the moment.

Mindy Winning spoke to Illinois investigators in August about her 81-year-old mother Gloria. That’s when FOX 2 began our reporting.

Mindy told her mom during a visit through the glass, “Mom, don’t you worry. I’m fighting for you guys.”

Illinois inspectors responded with a 42-page report that said, in part, “…the facility failed to develop and implement infection control procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection…”

In interviews, inspectors spoke with an “(employee who) stated that many of the residents who had tested positive with COVID-19 were still residing with roommates that had tested negative.”

The report added that a “(registered nurse) stated she was at work on 8/10/20 when she was informed she had tested positive for COVID-19. She stated she was told to finish her shift and go home.”

One case was witnessed by an inspector who wrote, “A licensed practical nurse was standing and smoking in the front entrance. (the LPN) gave (the inspector) the code to get into the building and stated no one was available to do any screening at this hour.”

Winning said her mom tested positive and got through it without any symptoms but later had to go to the hospital because of dehydration and weight loss. She’s since been discharged and is doing well.

“My mother sure is a fighter,” Winning said. “She made it and I want to say thank you to you and the state.”

The nursing home responded in a statement, “Stearns pre-emptively implemented policies and protocols to combat the spread of COVID, and in compliance with CMS guidelines. The facility continues to do its best to combat the spread of the virus, including by working with IDPH to improve the implementation of its pre-existing protocols.”

Stearns did not comment during my earlier reporting that began August 19 as cases went from 88 to over 100 and deaths went from 10 to 20.

Now that the state investigation is complete, a Stearns spokesperson added to its side of the story, not only that they’ve gotten the positive rate down to just one person, but also that people should consider a Harvard Medical School study that says homes are affected by their locations.

Based on COVID spikes in Madison County, the spokesperson said the nursing home responded by testing staff weekly and that testing is continuing currently.

FOX 2 received the following statement from Stearns after 6 p.m. Monday:

Stearns Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC worked cooperatively with IDPH through the survey process in August. Although Stearns disputes some of the issues identified — and is currently evaluating its options on appeal — the facility promptly implemented measures to satisfy the state survey agency. The facility continues to do its best to combat COVID-19 and prevent spread to our residents and the facility currently has no COVID-positive residents or employees.

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