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Nursing homes taking precautions against COVID-19

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NURSING HOME

Central Illinois nursing homes are taking extra precautions after 18 people died from the virus at a nursing home in Washington State.

The state health department has asked nursing homes and assisted living facilities to ramp up their disease defenses.

"Step up their vigilance and be careful. Limit their visitors so we can make sure we are not walking in viruses into a setting, a tight enclosed setting with a very vulnerable population," said Director of Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Generations at Riverview in East Peoria has already started.

"If you are young and healthy it may be even more mild than the flu. As you get up in age, around 60, it starts to become very serious. If you are 80 and over, it can be fatal," said Dr. Jeff Kreamer, the Chief Medical Officer for Generations Healthcare Network.

Dr. Kreamer said they don't want to cause panic but have to offer protection for their residents.

So, before each shift, employees now fill out a risk assessment questionnaire and get their temperatures taken.

Patients also get their temperatures taken and asked about any potential symptoms when staff changes shift.

There are now limits on who can stop by.

Only essential visitors get in.

"If there is a hospice situation going on that's essential visit. We're working with families and patients on what an essential visit is. Psycho-social support is very important," said Dr. Kreamer.

Even visitors get their temperatures taken and a questionnaire.

If someone is sick or under the age of 18, they won't be allowed in but they can still make a "virtual" visit.

Staff has been trained to set up and help with this new technology.

A doctor or a nurse practitioner will be in the building 7 days a week..

Alex Menke

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