Families of Symphony of Joliet COVID-19 victims call on long-term care facility to take responsibility for deaths

"We were forced to let my mother die alone"

Michelle Gallardo Image
Monday, October 19, 2020
Families of Joliet COVID-19 victims call on care facility to take responsibility
So far, three victims' families have filed a lawsuit against Symphony of Joliet.

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Six months into the pandemic, COVID-19 has infected nearly 32,000 Illinois long-term care residents and killed at least 4,888.

In Will County, Symphony of Joliet has registered 130 cases so far, including 25 deaths.

RELATED: Coronavirus deaths: 23 have died of COVID-19 at Symphony of Joliet nursing home

Twenty-two residents and one staff member at the Symphony of Joliet nursing home in the southwest suburb have now died from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Many of the victims' families are still searching for answers.

One question that remains unanswered is why their employees, as they claim, were not given the personal protective equipment they needed to limit infection and safely perform their jobs.

"Symphony, you are to blame," said Ciara Fox, whose grandmother was one of the victims. "Their blood is on your hands."

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Local elderly are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, a Chicago internist says.

It's been six months to the day since certified nursing assistant Sandra Evans-Green passed away after 24 days on a ventilator. Her eldest daughter recalls a phone conversation on the 57-year-old's last day at work before she fell ill.

"She called me very upset," said Evans-Green's daughter, Lakendel Evans-Smith. "She said she came into work and there were so many people in isolation and she was so upset. ... They don't have masks, they don't have that. And if these people have COVID, they're not telling."

"We were forced to let my mother die alone. We couldn't say goodbye. We couldn't hold her hand. We couldn't give her a hug or couldn't see her again," said Alicia Evans, her other daughter.

RELATED: Families demand more transparency from nursing homes amid COVID-19 crisis

Their loved ones contracted the coronavirus while the nursing homes were under a quarantine, families want more information about how it was spread.

A spokeswoman for the Symphony Care Network, Natalie Bauer-Luce, issued a statement that read:

"We join Ms. Green's family in mourning her loss. From the outset of the pandemic, Symphony has taken every action possible to halt or slow the spread of this disease among our patients, their families and our staff. We retained a renowned infectious disease control expert and a distinguished gerontologist to lead a task force advising our clinicians on the most effective treatments and advanced procedures to save lives, and at all times, our infection prevention protocols -- including PPE and masking -- have exceeded the CDC guidelines. We are also currently participating in a groundbreaking trial testing a potential COVID-19 treatment. We hope that our efforts may contribute in some small way to identifying a therapy that can help stop the spread of this disease globally. Until then, we are committed to continuing to do everything we can to protect our patients and staff."

So far, three victim families have filed a lawsuit against Symphony of Joliet. Evans-Green's family did not say what their plans are in that regard, even as they continue to call on the facility to accept responsibility for her death.