Retirement communities, home care facilities implement COVID-19 precautions


John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune

Three Crowns Park resident Steve Warner reenters the assisted living facility, where three residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Eva Herscowitz, Assistant City Editor

As the novel coronavirus sweeps through Evanston, local retirement communities and home care services are taking precautions to keep their residents safe.

As of March 30, at least two dozen group living settings in suburban Cook County — including nursing homes and long-term care facilities — had reported one or more confirmed COVID-19 infections among residents and staff, according to public health officials.

At Three Crowns Park, a senior care facility in Evanston, three residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Two residents of the facility have died, including a 93-year-old man who was the first Evanston resident to die from coronavirus complications.

Older adults are at a higher risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates eight out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.S. are adults over 65, and 31-59 percent of adults between 65 and 84 years old require hospitalization.

On March 29, officials at Mather Senior Living Communities reported a resident at the Wilmette location tested positive for coronavirus. The Evanston location hasn’t reported any confirmed cases, but the community has already moved to implement protective measures. All employees and caregivers at the Evanston location wear masks, receive temperature checks, and are “health-screened” at every 8-hour shift.

Deann Daniel, the executive director at the Evanston location, said employees are adapting to the changes by delivering meals to residents’ apartments and moving in-person fitness classes and other programs to Zoom. She added that most residents at the Evanston branch own mobile devices or computers, so they’re able to connect with family and friends virtually.

“Our team spirit remains ever the same,” Daniel said. “Our mission to create ways to age well is stronger than ever during these unprecedented times.”

Like Mather, Evanston assisted and independent living facility Ten Twenty Grove is restricting non-essential visitors and staff and conducting routine temperature checks.

Because residents are required to remain in their apartments, concierge Gian Regacho said self-isolation has affected social interaction.

“In a way, the community life has slowed down,” Regacho said. “But residents do still interact with us and with other people, just we’re being cautious about it.”

He added that residents are grateful Ten Twenty Grove is prioritizing their health.

Some caregivers, many of whom are essential employees, are dealing with the stress that comes with working during a pandemic. Robert Cronin, the owner of Evanston’s Assisting Hands Home Care, said caregivers are anxious about coming into contact with undiagnosed clients.

“We’ve had caregivers raise our concerns like, ‘What do I do if I go to this home and they’re sick?’” Cronin said. “This pandemic causes some stress and some anxiety for everybody involved, both clients as well as our staff.”

Assisting Hands’ 24-hour home care services include companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, shopping and errand assistance, and help with bathing and dressing. Cronin said some hospitals and assisted living facilities have asked that company’s caregivers volunteer to take care of COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms recovering at home.

To reduce the risk of patient-to-caregiver infection, Assisting Hands is in the process of acquiring more personal protective equipment.

“Our caregivers will be at risk just like other care providers and healthcare professionals,” Cronin said. “We just don’t know the extent to how contagious this virus is.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misgendered Deann Daniel. Daniel is female, not male. The Daily regrets the error and is committed to ensuring our reporters ask all sources for their pronouns.
Clarification: The article was also updated to clarify that the protective measures taken at Mather Senior Living Communities are different at the Evanston and Wilmette locations.

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Twitter: @herscowitz

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