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

McLean County Nursing Home Disputes COVID-19 Data

Exterior of Nursing Home
The McLean County Nursing Home administrator disputes state data that show 11 people have died of COVID at the facility.

The head of the McLean County Nursing Home says the state and the media are reporting incorrect COVID-19 data related to the facility in north Normal.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports the county-run home has had 11 COVID-related deaths as of Jan 1. WGLT reported that figure on Jan. 2.

Nursing home administrator Terri Edens said not all of those deaths were caused by the coronavirus.

McLean County Health Committee virtual meeting
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Administrator Terri Edens told County Board members at a health committee meeting the McLean County Nursing Home has had only six COVID deaths.

“According to our infection control, we’ve had six COVID deaths and eight were other. They had other comorbidities that cause… heart trouble or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” Edens said during a McLean County Board Health Committee meeting on Monday.

Edens told the committee five residents and five employees currently have COVID and one resident is hospitalized.

Edens said the facility reports its COVID data to the McLean County Health Department, but she’s not sure how the media gets its information.

“The numbers that are coming out, I don’t know,” Edens said. “Every day I see the newspaper and every day I hear the news and every day I come in here and say, 'Where are they getting their numbers? Are we not counting right?'”

The IDPH website also indicates the McLean County Nursing Home has had 87 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic. Edens said the facility had hardly any cases at all until November.

Two other nursing home administrators in the county said the state's data on their facilities is generally reliable, even if state and local health officials may report the data on different timelines.

“The numbers that are being depicted on the (IDPH) website now are, while they may not be 100% accurate to the exact moment in time, are much better than they used to be,” said Becky Smith, senior vice president of nursing and clinical services at Heritage Operations Group that operates Heritage Health facilities in Bloomington and Normal.

Matt Riehle, chief operating officer at Westminster Village in Bloomington, noted the 39 coronavirus cases and two deaths IDPH reported at that senior living community, and 13 cases in its assisted living facility, include a combination of residents and staff.

“It’s kind of a moving target,” Riehle said. “The current update on the IDPH (website) is pretty close.”

County officials denied WGLT's request for an interview to clarify where problems may exist in the data reporting.

“At this time, we are focused on providing care to our residents and supporting our staff,” McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said in an email.

Edens also shared with the health committee the challenges of keeping the coronavirus out of the nursing home when the virus is present in the community. She said staff continues to follow all public health protocols, including wearing PPE.

“They are wearing everything. I’m not sure other than everyone is out and about. It just takes one to come in and then it just…. We are as flabbergasted as you are. Trust me.”

According to IDPH, the county has had 66 COVID-related deaths tied to long-term care facilities.

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