Symphony of Joliet CNA killed by coronavirus was 'very loved'

2nd worker, at least 24 patients from nursing home also died after infection

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The daughters of a Symphony of Joliet certified nursing assistant who died after contracting the coronavirus remembered their mother as an adored member of the community.

"She was very loved, and she loved hard," Lakendel Evans said of her mother, Sandra Green.

Green, 57, died at AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet after 24 days on a ventilator, Evans said.

"We didn't want her to suffer anymore so we took her off the ventilator," Evans said. "She had failing kidneys, she had internal bleeding. The coronavirus just drained her whole body."

As of Friday afternoon, Symphony of Joliet nursing home had already suffered 25 coronavirus-related deaths, including 24 residents and one employee, according to Symphony Care Network spokeswoman Lauryn Allison.

Allison said she would provide updated information on Symphony deaths by 3 p.m. Sunday but did not do so.

Another Symphony spokeswoman, Natalie Bauer Luce, confirmed Green's death.

Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk previously called for a state investigation into what he called "the mess" at Symphony of Joliet. O'Dekirk failed to respond when contacted about Green Sunday.

Green worked for the past years at Symphony of Joliet and about13 years in all , Evans and another daughter, Alicia Evans, said Sunday.

"She loved those residents," Lakendel Evans recalled, but said working conditions at the nursing home had become dangerous.

"They didn't have the proper PPE," Lakendel Evans said.

"It's horrible," she said. "She shouldn't have been walking around looking for a mask."

Lakendel Evans also said her mother had to wear the same protective gown throughout her entire work day.

"We didn't want her to go to work there," she said. "We tried to stop her."

Isiah Williams Jr. said he knew Green since they were children.

"We actually grew up together on the South End of Joliet," Williams said.

"This is so tragic to the families, and to to the other employees who are out there," he said, adding that Green "went above and beyond the call of duty" at Symphony of Joliet.

Lakendel Evans echoed that sentiment, saying her mother "lost her life taking care of people."

Latasha Allen, who is also a CNA, said she worked at Symphony of Joliet for two days in March before quitting because she was scared about the nursing home’s poor response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Allen said the home did not have adequate PPE and some of the nurses were not providing proper care for the residents.

Allison said Symphony’s procurement teams have “diligently monitored” the allocation of PPE to make sure all providers and employees have what they need in accordance with federal health guidelines.

“We wish we had more than we needed, but as of right now we have just enough,” Allison said.

Allen said another nurse told her that a hospital notified Symphony of Joliet about the first resident who died from coronavirus in March but the nursing home's administration did not let the rest of the staff or residents know.

Allison said all patients and staff were notified of the first positive case in March and that a “communication process set into action immediately.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Department of Public Health, said during a press conference Saturday that her department has given “direct assistance” to Symphony of Joliet and reviewed infection control protocols at that facility and other nursing homes with issues.

“It’s an ongoing process," Ezike said. "Once the infection is in, it becomes a lot harder to control."

Governor JB Pritzker said the state has a “strike team” that goes to nursing homes where outbreaks have occurred. Specialists make sure staff at the nursing homes are properly utilizing protective personal equipment and understand the proper procedures.

During the Saturday press conference, Pritzker did not address O’Dekirk’s call for an investigation of Symphony of Joliet. Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh failed to respond to a message inquiring about it.

Symphony Care Network CEO David Hartman said in a letter to O'Dekirk that the Symphony of Joliet team implemented “every possible protective measure” and “proactively adopted additional approaches to screening, assessing and mitigating the further spread of this rapidly-evolving and unpredictable virus.”

Williams said he believed Symphony bore blame for Green's death.

"I think the responsibility was definitely on the company she worked for," he said.

Lakendel Evans was critical of how Symphony responded to the coronavirus crisis.

"They said, 'Everything's going to be all right," she said. "And now my mother's dead."