Coronavirus Illinois Update: Infectious disease expert tapped to lead Symphony of Joliet's COVID-19 crisis team

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- COVID-19 is taking an enormous toll on nursing homes across the country.

Symphony Care Network's facility in Joliet leads the number of confirmed cases and coronavirus-related deaths in Illinois.

Hoping to turn that around is Dr. Alexander Stemer, an infectious disease expert who was tapped Monday to lead Symphony's COVID-19 crisis team.

Dr. Stemer had already been part of a team of medical experts advising Symphony on how to respond to Covid-19 but now, he's leading the charge.

"My goal is to capture all of the important aspects of developing improved care for these patients and have them implemented in Symphony facilities as quickly as possible," said Stemer.

On the top of his list is regular testing for all residents and workers as well as a more aggressive treatment protocol.

Residents who present symptoms resembling COVID-19 will be tested and will be given medication before the results come back, including with the controversial hydroxychloroquine.

"I don't want to wait 72 or 96 hours to start treatment in an 80-year-old lady with heart and lung disease," said Stemer.

Stemer said even with improvements, COVID-19 will remain a health threat in nursing homes across the country until a vaccine can be developed.
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