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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Daughter Mourns Nursing Home Resident's 'Joyful Spirit'

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Alana Bourgond, 70, died May 13 at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. She is one of six residents of Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center to die after contracting COVID-19.

Robyn Rodriguez was frightened when she got the call on Mother’s Day that her mother had tested positive for the coronavirus at her Bloomington nursing home and was being moved to a hospital ICU.

But Rodriguez still thought her mom, Alana Bourgond, would pull through. Yes, the 70-year-old had Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. But otherwise she was “healthy as a horse” and had fought off nasty bugs before.

“In the back of my mind, with this COVID thing, I thought my Mom was tucked away safe in a nursing home, in a smaller town, not a hot spot,” Rodriguez told WGLT. “I didn’t think I had to worry. But if it did (happen), I thought if my Mom got this (virus) she’d beat it. That’s not what happened.”

Bourgond died May 13 at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. She is one of six residents of Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center to die after contracting COVID-19. At least 30 residents and 18 staff have tested positive in McLean County’s worst outbreak.

Bourgond’s condition deteriorated quickly. The X-rays turned up pneumonia. While hospitalized she was also newly diagnosed with diabetes. Her oxygen levels kept dropping.

Rodriguez, of LeRoy, and her brother were able to talk to their mother on the phone and via FaceTime, up to 10 minutes before she passed away.

“My brother and I were on the phone with her, and she said, ‘Can I go to sleep?’ And I said, ‘Yes, Mom. It’s alright. Close your eyes.’ She told us how much she loved us and missed us,” Rodriguez said. “I guess she was just waiting for that permission to go. I knew at that moment that was the last time I was going to talk to her.”

Bourgond previously lived at LeRoy Manor before it closed last year. She had been at Bloomington Rehab for just over a year—one of about 50 residents there.

She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s about 12 years ago, and later M.S. Rodriguez moved to Illinois about eight years ago to help care for her at home. That worked until Bourgond fell, broke an ankle, and was never able to walk again.

Before all that—and before COVID-19—Bourgond had a joyful spirit. She was a beautiful woman her whole life, her daughter said.

“She was always laughing. She never had any enemies. She was just a pleasant woman her whole life. I’m a good human. She was a great human,” Rodriguez said.

Earlier in life, Bourgond worked at Edwards Air Force Base as a tracker for F-16 jets. In her room at the nursing home was a big picture of an F-16 with her name on it—a token of her retirement.

Rodriguez said she has no regrets, including the years she spent as her mom’s caregiver.

“Caregiving can obviously be frustrating. But the happy times and sunny times outweighed any of that. I’m grateful for the time I spent with her,” Rodriguez said. “If anything, it’s truly about taking that time to be with your family. Enjoy every minute of it. Because you don’t know what tomorrow brings.”

Bourgond is also survived by her son, Mark, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

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