New equipment, staff pouring in for Lake Zurich assisted living center hit by virus

  • The coronavirus has infiltrated Cedar Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care in Lake Zurich. A resident died Friday and others are sick, as are two employees.

      The coronavirus has infiltrated Cedar Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care in Lake Zurich. A resident died Friday and others are sick, as are two employees. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 3/30/2020 7:22 PM

Donations of protective gear have poured in for a Lake Zurich assisted living center that late last week reported dire shortages as residents and employees battled a COVID-19 outbreak.

Officials with the company that manages Cedar Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care, 777 Church St., also say they're hiring nurses, caregivers and other professionals from the Lake Zurich area after the virus' spread led to a staff shortage.


"There has been an outpouring of support from the Lake Zurich community," said William Swearingen, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities. "(It) has been overwhelming and heartwarming."

Cedar Lake has 65 residents. Nine tested positive for COVID-19 last week, company officials said. One, a woman who had been in hospice care at Cedar Lake, died Friday at a hospital, Swearingen said.

That resident had multiple health issues that create a higher risk of death if the virus is contracted, he added.

The remaining eight infected residents are hospitalized, improving and doing well, said Swearingen, whose company also operates facilities in Libertyville, Lombard, Cary, Streamwood, South Elgin, Burr Ridge and Palos Heights, as well as in nine other states.

Eight Cedar Lake residents are in precautionary isolation, Swearingen said, not 17 as initially reported.

Cedar Lake's staff total dropped by about 20% after the outbreak began because of suspected infection or fears of infection.

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Two workers tested positive last week. Neither are caregivers, and both are recovering, Swearingen said. Other employees who were presumed to have the disease have since been cleared by tests.

Reeling from the outbreak, Spectrum officials reached out to other organizations Friday to request replacement personnel and equipment, and word spread via the Daily Herald and other media.

The response, Swearingen said, was "astounding."

"We have received numerous donations which helped alleviate the temporary challenge," Swearingen said. "The generosity by private citizens, local businesses, schools, and others was incredible."

As a result, the situation at Cedar Lake has "significantly improved," he said.

Clusters of COVID-19 cases had been discovered at 10 long-term care facilities in Lake County, up from five Friday, said Chris Covelli, a spokesman for the county's crisis team. Twenty-two residents have tested positive, and three have died. Fourteen employees have tested positive, while two employees are ill with symptoms resembling COVID-19.


"It is imperative that staff members at these facilities, and every essential employee, stay home if they feel ill or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19," Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said in a news release.

The health department has refused to publicly identify the facilities experiencing outbreaks, and they won't confirm Cedar Lake is among them.

The department has been communicating with all long-term care facilities in the county during the crisis, Covelli said.

Facilities are advised to check employees for fever and other symptoms once or twice a day. Patients who develop symptoms should either be tested or presumed to be infected and be isolated from other residents, Covelli said.

Additionally, the department recommends keeping sick people together as best as possible to limit spread of the virus.

The department has been distributing personal protective equipment to long-term care facilities, but the supply is running thin throughout the county and the region, Covelli said. The department has requested additional gear from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, he said.

Swearingen said health care providers need consistent recommendations and guidelines from health care authorities, as well as open dialogue with those agencies. He's also called for greater testing for health care staff.

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