Residents, staff recovering after COVID-19 outbreak at senior living facility

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PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Residents and staff at Accolade Healthcare of Paxton Senior Living are recovering after more than 80 people came down with COVID-19.

Administrator Jonas Hoedebecke said the outbreak started after a resident returned from a trip to the hospital for an unrelated health reason at the end of October. The resident had been isolated on the admission wing of the facility. Several other residents in that wing soon tested positive there.

“Initially, we were very confident that we had isolated the virus to the wing that was set up to handle the virus,” Hoedebecke said. “In the recurring testing in the coming weeks, we found that, unfortunately, it was not isolated to that wing and had spread into the general population.”

That prompted Accolade to lock down the entire facility, increase the amount of PPE and measurements of vital signs. Administrators notified stakeholders that 82 residents and staff combined had contracted the virus in a letter sent out November 18.

Since that time, Hoedebecke said the majority of people have recovered. Three residents with pre-existing conditions died from the virus. Nine residents and one staff member currently remain ill.

He said staffing was stretched thin due to illness, and Accolade had to call in additional help.

“When their number was called, and we really, really, really, really needed them to step up, they did exactly that,” Hoedebecke said. “They ran towards the fire. They took the challenge, you know, and they worked an ungodly amount of hours, made sacrifices in their personal lives. They did everything that we could have possible asked them to do tenfold.”

Hoedebecke urged community members to do their part to protect the elderly as well.

“I would ask everybody to do a better job with mask usage,” he said. “I would ask everyone to do a better job utilizing available hand sanitizers, socially distance, stay home when possible. Do all the things that your local health officials are recommending that you do because there is a very vulnerable population in our elderly population that we need to keep this virus away from. Honestly, we owe it to each other to do our best to mitigate the spread of this virus until the vaccine is readily available.”

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