Chicago’s South Shore Minority Community Facing COVID-19 Realities
Illinois long-term care facilities have now contributed to nearly 3,500 coronavirus deaths of residents and workers, according to data published by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The fatalities have been linked to nursing homes, assisted living communities, centers for adults with developmental disabilities, and skilled nursing facilities across the state, with hot spots spreading in Cook County, specifically among minority groups battling higher mortality and disability rates as a result of their long-term care system.
- Nationally, African-American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than expected from their share of the population.
- In Illinois, 580 long-term care facilities have had confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- 152 facilities have had ten or more deaths.
- The statewide death toll is 6,260, with 131,198 confirmed cases.
- Though black residents make up 30% of Chicago’s population, they account for 60% of its COVID-19 fatalities.
According to IDPH, about one in every seven cases of COVID-19 can be traced to skilled nursing facilities in Illinois, proving that nursing homes still aren’t doing enough to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.
We are seeking anyone who has information about the outbreak of COVID-19 at an Illinois long-term care facility to contact us.
The attorneys at Levin & Perconti have launched more than 100 investigations into facilities that have failed to uphold adequate safeguards and care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak for residents and nursing home staff in Illinois.
Confirmed Case Numbers Grow at Villa at Windsor Park
Villa at Windsor Park in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood has some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 resident deaths. Unfortunately, the jump in cases do highlight health disparities among minority groups, and the racial divide related to high-risk COVID-19 residents and communities of color being hit disproportionately hard by the virus. Many of these residents lack the support of staff trained in handling infectious disease and left without protections such as personal protection equipment (PPE), and the appropriate testing, diagnosis and treatment needed to survive.
- In April, The Office of National Statistics found that the black people are still almost twice as likely as white people to die a COVID-19-related death. Minority populations that experience disproportionately high burdens of disease are often presented with more barriers to accessing coronavirus care than others.
- Minority populations identified by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for battling health disparities are too often forced into facilities that do not provide enough trained staff or funding, and are not equipped to handle or manage the needs of patients with chronic conditions or infectious diseases.
At Windsor Park, 43 residents and employees have died, and the number of cases continues to climb. In April, elder advocacy groups in the Chicago area pushed for the home’s high-level management to follow IDPH guidelines and start protecting residents after concerns were raised about an underreported spread of the coronavirus among sick residents and staff.
Racial Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Are the Result of Pre-Pandemic Truths
The issues that arise from health disparities in nursing home settings include many. Since most of these populations have not had the proper management of their diseases, to begin with, they end up in emergency rooms or hospitals to treat their chronic conditions and infectious diseases such as COVID-19. After discharge, their Medicare coverage (if they have it) will not pay if they require a long-term care stay, it will only cover doctor services and medical supplies. The patient must then be screened via Illinois’ strict rules for Medical Assistance (Medicaid) eligibility and, finally, await approval. Once approved, the state’s Medical Assistance program will only pay for a nursing home when it is medically necessary. It will not pay for nursing home care that is just “custodial,” meaning non-medical care such as help with transferring to and from a wheelchair, bathing, or eating.
Meanwhile, these care stays put an even more significant burden on the patient when worries about transferring residents with COVID-19 are at an all-time high. Also, even though care facilities must keep a resident on-site, this isn’t always the case. Sick or recovering patients have been transferred to facilities that cannot tend to the exact needs required to treat their chronic conditions. The person is likely to again be treated in an emergency room or hospital setting, and the dangerous care cycle continues, jeopardizing their health even further. Even worse, they may die from COVID-19 alone in an unfamiliar setting without family or neighboring residents and staff to care for them.
It is time for families and care workers to act. We need to make others aware of these shortcomings so that fewer residents succumb to the novel coronavirus and its fatal risk.
What Is Happening Inside Illinois’ Nursing Homes?
There is no doubt COVID-19 is continuing to spread, and the magnified view of systemic breakdowns within Illinois’ long-term care facilities is proving that. After this latest release of reported data by IDPH, more than half of the COVID-19-related fatalities in Illinois have now occurred at these facilities.
To continue our work as advocates for nursing home residents and care staff, we ask anyone who has information about the outbreak of COVID-19 in an Illinois long-term care facility, to SPEAK UP for our most vulnerable citizens. This includes nursing home residents and their family members, and nursing home employees with whistleblower complaints of unsafe working environments.
Legal Support for Our Loved Ones
At Levin & Perconti, we have the experience and resources to investigate claims and are currently standing up to violators who choose not to protect residents and staff from harm caused by and infectious disease. If you are considering a legal case against an Illinois nursing home related to COVID-19 or want to share your story to help others, please contact us for a free consultation at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872. All calls and discussions with our attorneys are confidential.
Also read: Symphony of Lincoln Park: COVID-19 Summary