Madison County nursing home reports remarkable turnaround after state health investigation

FOX Files
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About the FOX Files

The Fox Files are groundbreaking investigations you won’t see anywhere else. The series is well known for breaking the Pam Hupp story nationally. The reports that led to the exoneration of Russ Faria. But, it is far from the only time in which our investigations led to overturned convictions and freedom for the wrongfully accused. The Fox Files investigations do not fit into just one category, other than the fact our reports shine a light on issues and corruption in ways you won’t see anywhere else.

You won’t know what to expect as our reports often take twists that surprise even Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes.

“You never know where the truth will lead and you have to keep searching for it, even when you think you might be done,” Hayes said.

From getting arrested for trying to cover a public meeting, to getting law enforcement involved in his report about a daycare fight club, the Fox Files has been at the forefront of breaking news investigations in the St. Louis area.

It doesn’t stop just in St. Louis. The Pam Hupp/Russ Faria story took him to Lincoln County. Fox 2 was the first to report, nationally, on the synthetic drug epidemic when it began in St. Charles County, MO. In St. Louis County, our Fox Files reporting led to the dismantling of some police departments, including the departments of Uplands Park and Jennings. And in the City of St. Louis, our investigations led to swift government actions, such as our report that led to the Governor’s ordered shut down of a daycare.

Our reporting in St. Louis also led to former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ exclusive Fox Files interviews involving his court fight to oust the chief prosecutor while attempting to prove that political corruption led to an illegal overturning of a state election.

“It’s not always bad news,” Hayes said about a recent victory for a restaurant in his coverage of a St. Clair County Illinois issue. A Fox Files report, exposing a health department’s mistake over the COVID-19 pandemic, led to an overturning of a decision, allowing the business to open for limited inside dining.

Another investigation took us to Madison County, where prosecutors praised Fox 2’s coverage while shutting down an illegal synthetic drug business – and to Monroe County, where we uncovered key evidence in the Chris Coleman murder trial.

Even the national media, continues reaching out to local affiliate Fox 2 KTVI and the Fox Files, for its work on cases that are important to St. Louis. When you see a network television’s coverage of St. Louis, you’ll often see that they gathered information that was first uncovered right here.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

More local COVID-19 maps and stats


Latest News

More News