Nursing home claims it’s allowed to have COVID positive employees working under a staffing crisis

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This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated.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.

MADISON COUNTY, Ill. – A Madison County nursing home is under investigation as it fights a COVID outbreak of nearly 100 people that have killed 12.

FOX 2 has learned the nursing home claims it can have COVID positive employees working.

A Stearns Nursing and Rehab employee told FOX 2 she tested positive for COVID and was told she could keep working. She was afraid to talk on camera but said she refused to go to work while positive.

We asked Stearn’s director if the nursing home is telling people to go to work while positive. She sent the following CDC guidelines, which may shock you.

The nursing home falls under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines titled “Mitigating Staff Shortages.”

CDC Guidelines on Mitigating Staff Shortages

The guidelines say, in part, “As a last resort, allow HCP (Health Care Provider) with confirmed COVID-19 to provide direct care for patients without suspected or confirmed COVID-19.”

The Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) confirmed this to Fox 2, but writes:

“While the CDC allows a positive employee who is asymptomatic to continue working if there is a staffing shortage, IDPH discourages it.

“This should only be considered if:

  • The facility is in crisis staffing and the positive staff are asymptomatic
  • There is no alternative after they have exhausted all options including overtime, staffing agency, Illinois Helps, borrowing staff from corporate or local hospital, etc. and they must document these efforts.
  • Positive staff are strictly cohorted with only COVID-19 recovered or positive residents, and recovered or other asymptomatic positive staff.
  • It is typically several weeks before inspection reports are finalized.”

The nursing home will not tell us how many employees have COVID out of the near 100 reported to be infected.

Meanwhile, Stearns is fighting a COVID outbreak that’s growing by the day. We were there last week when Mindy Winning visited her 81-year-old mother with glass dividing them.

Winning says she was told her mother is positive but asymptomatic, as is 100-year-old Gladys Sherrod.

“She was tested on the 8th of this month and we didn’t find out until last week,” said Fred Sherrod, Gladys’ son.

Fred says his mother survived polio as a child and a broken hip when she was 70, but this latest battle seems toughest because his mom is alone. He says she is also reported to be asymptomatic, but that he struggles to get updates from nursing home staff.

“People who love those people are concerned because they’re not getting any feedback. They’re not getting any information,” he said.

At last count, the Madison County Health Department reported Stearns Nursing and Rehab had 91 COVID cases and 12 deaths as of Friday. We’ll keep you posted on the Illinois Health Department’s investigation.

We’re also following up on those CDC guidelines to see if anyone else is reporting that they’re allowed to have health care professionals who have tested positive for COVID to continue working.

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

Popular

Latest News

More News