Will County and the city of Joliet officials are calling on Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health to investigate the Symphony of Joliet nursing home, where 23 people died after contracting coronavirus.
Of those, 22 residents and one staff member died, officials said.
"It is a matter for health officials to get involved and start untangling the mess of what happened inside that nursing home," said Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk.
Sixteen other patients have tested positive for COVID-19. Those residents remain at the Joliet facility. All other residents who tested negative were moved to other facilities, according to interim Joliet Fire Chief Greg Blaskey.
Blaskey said his department responded to 31 calls for service to Symphony of Joliet in the last five weeks. Those calls ranged from unresponsive patients, those with difficulty breathing and those in cardiac arrest.
"Our last call for service was this past Sunday, which was one of those cardiac arrest (calls)," Blaskey said.
Blaskey said state health inspectors arrived at the facility on Tuesday, April 14, though he said no reason for the visit was provided.
Sources told NBC 5 Investigates that Symphony personnel faced a shortage of personal protective equipment and left residents who tested positive for coronavirus in rooms with healthy patients.
A Symphony spokesperson disputed those claims.
"The staff does have everything they need in order to protect themselves and to protect the guests," said Lauryn Allison, director of communications at Symphony Care Network.
Will County officials said the county health department only oversees food inspections for nursing homes. All other regulations and licensing are up to IDPH.
"We don't have the answers right now," said O'Dekirk. "But we are going to get the answers, and certainly Joliet families, the people who lost their loved ones inside that nursing home have a right to get those answers."
David Hartman, CEO of Symphony Care Network, sent the following statement:
On behalf of Symphony Care Network, we’d like to express our sincere gratitude for all the first responders and public servants for their brave and tireless efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged Will County and afflicted both patients and staff at Symphony of Joliet. We are also deeply appreciative of our ongoing work with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Will County Health Department. These partnerships have made it possible for our clinical and corporate leadership teams to feel certain that every possible measure has been taken in the interests of our patients and staff at Symphony Joliet, as well as the broader Joliet community. For the last five weeks, we have moved in lockstep with the Illinois Department of Public Health and welcome any opportunity to meet with State and local investigative teams. Acting with full transparency only helps us to better protect the Joliet community and allows us the chance to demonstrate all we have done to implement safety procedures and precautions as they are updated and advised by state and federal authorities.
We would also like to express our sincere thanks to all of the Joliet businesses and families who have donated their resources to support our Symphony Joliet family as our employees continue to stand strong while treating their patients in the face of this invisible threat.
Acting in full accordance with state and local health officials, the regulations and guidelines set forth by the CDC, CMS, and WHO, and our clinical leadership teams, the Symphony Joliet team has not only implemented every possible protective measure for the safety and care of their patients, but it has also proactively adopted additional approaches to screening, assessing, and mitigating the further spread of this rapidly evolving and unpredictable virus. These hard-working, dedicated providers have used every resource and partnership available to them to fight for and care for their patients.
Symphony Joliet is unfortunately one of many healthcare centers around the world that has been hit hard by COVID-19. Sadly, our patients and staff at Symphony of Joliet are not immune to this global pandemic. We have lost an unbearable number of residents and staff, and we are grieving these heartbreaking losses as their friends, colleagues and caregivers.
Their losses only hearten our commitment to doing everything we can to protect the well-being of our patients and staff. It is our sincere hope that we can work together to overcome this crisis and emerge from it a stronger community.
For now, as we continue this battle, we take heart in the outpouring of support and generosity from the Joliet community and remain in awe of the frontline heroes working in our facility who make clear it is their life’s mission to care for others in their time of greatest need.