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Bloomington nursing home is fined $25,000 for COVID-19 violations

Heritage Operations Group owns 53 senior care facilities in Illinois, including 700 E. Walnut St. in Bloomington.
Emily Bollinger
Heritage Operations Group owns 53 senior care facilities in Illinois, including 700 E. Walnut St. in Bloomington.

State regulators have fined a Bloomington nursing home $25,000 for failing to protect against the spread of COVID-19 last year.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said Heritage Health of Bloomington, an 88-bed skilled care facility, allowed two employees to work while they had COVID symptoms.

IDPH said a Heritage nurse worked last Thanksgiving (November 24) even though they said they "felt terrible." They tested negative for the coronavirus. The nurse called in sick for their Nov. 26 shift after reporting high fever, sinus congestion, vomiting and hot and cold sweats the day before.

The nurse returned to work on Nov. 29. A rapid coronavirus test came back positive after the nurse had worked at the nursing home for 2.5 hours that day.

The agency said two Heritage residents who had been close contacts of the nurse tested positive for the coronavirus soon after.

Heritage also allowed an activities staffer to work last December when they had a hoarse voice and cough, according to the IDPH report. The employee had tested negative and were required to wear protective equipment.

The report does not indicate where the employees had received the COVID vaccine. Heritage had previously required staff to get vaccinated.

The state’s COVID-19 protocols for long-term care facilities indicates employees who show COVID symptoms cannot work. “IDPH does not support staff working while ill. (Health care providers) should be asymptomatic and well enough to work, as sickness presenteeism, or working while ill, increases risk of errors and transmission,” IDPH said in its long-term care facility guidance.

IDPH said Heritage also failed to take precautions for symptomatic residents and failed to transfer a resident to its COVID unit after they tested positive.

Messages to Heritage Operations Group were not immediately returned.

Heritage is one of Illinois’ largest nursing home operators. It owns 53 senior care facilities in the state.

Staff and residents at long-term care facilities were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus for much of the pandemic.

IDPH announced fines on Tuesday against 74 long-term care facilities for violations processed from January to March 2022.

The state also fined Loft Rehabilitation and Nursing in Eureka $25,000 each for two violations: writing an incorrect prescription for a patient and failing to protect residents from misappropriation of funds.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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