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At a time when nursing homes nationally are facing outbreaks of coronavirus, a review of federal inspection data reveals that more than half of nursing homes in Illinois were cited for deficiencies in infection prevention and control in 2019.

The review of the federal data on Illinois nursing homes by CU-CitizenAccess and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found that 396 of about 720 active nursing homes that are Medicare & Medicaid certified have been cited for deficiencies in infection prevention and control in 2019.

The reports showed that nursing homes did not have adequate measures to “provide and implement an infection prevention and control program.”

“Infection control practices are vitally important for long-term care facilities at all times, but especially now as we are facing a national emergency fighting COVID-19,” said Kelly Richards, the Illinois State Long Term Care Ombudsman. “It is imperative that all facilities follow infection control guidance issued by the CDC and the IL Dept. of Public Health.”

The data is available at the Nursing Home Compare website and is managed by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The website provides information on deficiencies, ownership information, staffing and quality measures for all Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes in the country and is based on state inspection reports.

Infection prevention programs at nursing homes have come under scrutiny since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, as residents and staff members from numerous facilities have tested positive and died.

According to the Illinois Public Health Department, 213 Illinois long-term care facilities have COVID cases, as of April 8. Illinois has 773 cases associated with long-term care facilities (including assisted living), which includes patients and staff, the department said.

Chateau Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in DuPage County was one of the first nursing homes in Illinois that experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff and residents. As of April 8, 51 positive cases and 8 deaths have been reported to be associated with the nursing facility alone.

DuPage County Health Department reported that an additional 11 other long-term care facilities have experienced outbreaks of COVID19, as of April 8. A total of 51 positive cases(the same number as reported for Chateau) and nine deaths were attributed to these unnamed nursing facilities. 

Some central Illinois nursing homes have been cited for multiple problems in 2019. For example, Loft Rehab & Nursing of Normal in Mclean county received the four citations for infection control in 2019. 

Locally, Champaign Living Center, Champaign Urbana Nursing & Rehab, University Rehab and Illini Heritage Rehab & Healthcare have all been cited for one or more counts of deficiency in infection control. 

Some chain nursing homes are facing citations for infection control in multiple facilities. Aperion Care has 26 facilities cited for infection control in 2019, with three facilities cited twice and one facility cited three times. 

Julie Pryde, administrator for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said local health officials held an online meeting with all the area’s long-term facilities on March 11. They also provided more strict guidelines than what either the CDC or the Illinois Department of Public Health suggested at that time.

“The (long-term facilities) implemented our recommendations. We were VERY relieved that they did!!!,” Pryde said via an email. “CUPHD has also had regular communication with them throughout this pandemic. We provide them with personal protective equipment.”

Illinois Department of Public Health released an interim guide on COVID-19 Control Measures for Long Term Care on March 20 to help combat the spread of the infection in nursing homes. The guide defines an outbreak as one lab-confirmed case and at least one case of COVID-like illness within 14 days of each other.

Illini Heritage Rehab & Healthcare has declined to comment. Other nursing homes cited for deficiencies did not respond at the time of publication.