More COVID-19 testing could prevent many tragedies at Illinois nursing homes, families argue

CRETE, Ill. (WLS) -- A Chicago-area pastor is joining a chorus of calls for more COVID-19 testing focused on nursing home residents and staff.

Pastor Richard Redmond greeted his brother Curtis Wednesday after not being able to see him since March 21.

The family hopes the 63-year-old will be released soon from the Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square, where he has been battling COVID-19 alongside another brother, 69-year-old Samuel Redmond.

RELATED: Families worry over safety of residents stuck inside Chicago nursing home with over 150 COVID-19 cases

"It's a no-brainer to look at where these people are, you need to go to, and do them as a priority - testing," Richard Redmond said.

Nearly half of statewide COVID-19 deaths are associated with nursing homes, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

RELATED: Nearly 4K COVID-19 cases, 500 deaths in long-term care facilities in last week, data shows

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci backed calls for more testing in nursing homes Tuesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker defended the state's approach Wednesday.

"As soon as we knew of COVID-19's adverse effects on elderly, aggregate, congregate communities, we implemented restrictions around visitors at facilities that we control," Pritzker said.
But Pastor Redmond and the family of Johnson Montgomery argue that it's not enough.

Montgomery died May 5 of complications from COVID-19, just three months short of his 100th birthday.

His family believes a more intense testing regimen would've saved him.

"If my granddad had the proper trained staff that worked in this facility, he would have beat COVID-19 because my granddad was strong," said Pam Bosley, Montgomery's granddaughter.

The nursing home said the family had not complained about Montgomery's treatment before, but acknowledged that increased testing is a must.

"Testing will start increasing across the states. It has been some time coming," said Ron Nunziato, CEO of Extended Care Consulting.
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