DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center bars visitors to protect elderly against coronavirus

DeKALB – The DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center has chosen to restrict visitors to its facility to protect elderly patients from outside ailments in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“[We’re] severely restricting visitors,” said Steven Duchene, nursing home administrator for the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center. “The goal is to protect the most vulnerable residents from the coronavirus, which is the age of the residents who are here because of their frailty.”

The lockdown includes barring visitors younger than age 18 from entering the facility.

Duchene said the only exceptions to the visitor restrictions are if family members are visiting patients who either need communication, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s patients, or in the end-of-life stage.

“They’re not gonna die alone in their bed,” Duchene said. “That’s a very limited amount of visitors here, 5% of all the usual visitors.”

Limited visitors will be provided with a gown and a mask to wear during the visit.

“They stay in their loved one’s room and have their visit,” Duchene said. “It’s a very controlled environment.”

DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson said staff wants to keep the virus out of the facility and as of now there is no cure for coronavirus.

“You just have to weather the illness,” Hanson said. “The illness can be very hard for those with compromised immune systems, especially for our older population in the nursing home.”

Duchene called the policy, which went into effect Wednesday, a “protective measure.”

Hanson said the facility also is buying some Apple iPads so residents can use Skype or FaceTime to talk to their families.

“Patients depend on their family for support and companionship,” Hanson said.

Duchene said the center sent a letter last week to the residents and their families, and the powers of attorney, that the facility received information that the coronavirus, COVID-19, is an impending threat to health for the patient population at the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center.

Duchene said the staff sent letters Tuesday about exactly what the facility was doing.

“We started enforcing the new protocol yesterday morning,” Duchene said.

Duchene said he and his staff were told the Illinois Department of Health should have an update by Wednesday on any changes.

“I think the IDPH is just seeing if this is going to continue to increase,” Duchene said about the coronavirus cases, which spread to McHenry and Kane counties. “These preemptive measures are to get ahead of the threat so we can minimize illness in the building.”