April 19, 2024
Coronavirus | Daily Chronicle


Coronavirus | Daily Chronicle

‘Grandma was strong and loving, matter of fact yet compassionate’: second COVID-19 death linked to Pine Acres

Virginia Hennecke, 96, died Sunday about 5:20 p.m. at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital

Fond memories are what Alvarez has now of her grandmother, and on Monday she reminisced about Pine Acres holding an annual fall trip to Jonomac Orchard for residents and their families. She shared a photo of the last time the duo went to the orchard and then to Los Rancheros for lunch in March, the day before the shutdown.

DeKALB – A second resident of Pine Acres Rehab and Living Center in DeKalb has died from complications due to the novel coronavirus.

Virginia Hennecke, 96, died Sunday about 5:20 p.m. at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, her granddaughter Laura Alvarez said Monday. It’s the second death to come from the facility’s outbreak, which has seen 57 COVID-19 cases linked to it, in 40 residents and 17 employees.

That brings the COVID-19 death toll in DeKalb to five.

"Grandma was strong and loving, matter of fact yet compassionate," Alvarez said. "She taught me so much. I wish everyone could have known her."

Alvarez had previously expressed concern that she wasn't able to visit her maternal grandmother in the hospital, a worry carried over by her frustration that she couldn't be with Hennecke in Pine Acres either, as she spent the past two months visiting through the window, her on the outside, grandma on the inside.

Hennecke's husband of 69 years, Fred Hennecke, died in 2011, but Alvarez spoke of her resilience while she lived through a broken neck at 91 and abdominal surgery at 92, before she moved into Pine Acres.

She said Monday she was thankful Kish nurses were able to help her spend some final moments with her family.

"Her nurses have been amazingly compassionate and accommodating," Alvarez said Sunday, before her grandmother died. "I've spent at least six hours on a FaceTime vigil with her. I've read stories, psalms, sung countless hymns. All until the iPad battery emptied."

Alvarez said she expected a phone call from Hennecke's nurses after the iPad battery died letting her know they'd successfully moved her grandma to a new room. But that next phone call was to notify her that Virginia had died.

Fond memories are what Alvarez has left of her grandmother, and on Monday she reminisced about Pine Acres holding an annual fall trip to Jonamac Orchard for residents and their families. She shared a photo of the last time the duo went to the orchard. She said another fond spot of theirs was Los Rancheros for lunch back in March, the day before Gov. JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order.

Hennecke had 18 great-great-grandchildren and loved chicken enchiladas, chips and white cheese from Los Rancheros.

"She loved them all," Alvarez said of the 18 great-great-grandchildren. "She had a lap blanket with clear pockets for pictures. She love to look at all of them. The hospital allowed me to bring it in and the nurses would hold it up for her to look at."

Hennecke’s death was not listed in the Pine Acres daily COVID-19 update provided by the DeKalb County Health Department on Monday, although administrator Lisa Gonzalez confirmed the health department uses data reported to them from the hospital and COVID-19 testing labs.

Alvarez said she wants the public to know that if their loved one is hospitalized with COVID-19, they won't be able to visit, something she tried to fight since Hennecke was hospitalized three days prior to her death.

"I really want people to know that if their loved one has COVID and is in the hospital, they will not be allowed to come in even at the end of life," Alvarez said.

Northwestern Medicine’s visitor policy for COVID-19 patients prohibits visitors, even family, from being allowed in the room.

A woman of faith herself, Alvarez said she shared that trait with her grandmother.

“Her love for God and his ways was her motivation to bring kindness and light wherever she was,” she said. “She wasn’t perfect, but she has been made perfect by God.”

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke is the editor of the Daily Chronicle, part of Shaw Media and DeKalb County's only daily newspaper devoted to local news, crime and courts, government, business, sports and community coverage. Kelsey also covers breaking news for Shaw Media Local News Network.