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Nursing homes impose visitor, staff restrictions; Heritage allowing no visitors
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Nursing homes impose visitor, staff restrictions; Heritage allowing no visitors

BLOOMINGTON — Visitors to long-term care facilities are being limited as the spread of the new strain of coronavirus grows.

Bloomington-based Heritage Operations Group is allowing no visitors.

Following IDPH guidance, long-term care facilities are not allowing visitors who are younger than 18 or have respiratory symptoms or have traveled to countries where COVID-19 is prevalent.

But Heritage on Thursday went a step further, allowing no visitors at all at any of its facilities, with the exception of employees and delivery personnel, said Melissa Beaver, vice president of community relations and marketing. The change was made in response to the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 as a global pandemic, she said.

All staff members and delivery personnel are being screened for illness before being allowed to enter the building, Beaver said. If they display any symptoms, they will be asked to return when they are well.

At Westminster Village in Bloomington and Evenglow, the retirement community in Pontiac, visitors are being screened, said Matt Riehle, Westminster chief operating officer and registered nurse, and Evenglow CEO Mark Hovren. Anyone who says they have recently traveled to countries where COVID-19 is spreading, has been in close contact with someone who has traveled to those countries, is sick, or has been around sick people, will be asked to postpone their visit for at least 14 days.

Beginning Thursday, Evenglow was limiting visiting hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Hovren said.

"We are asking visitors and families to abide by those restrictions to safeguard our residents," said Becky Smith, Heritage senior vice president of nursing and clinical services. "We understand that it's difficult to not have face-to-face interaction with your loved one but we can help to facilitate virtual visits" such as Skype or Facetime, she said.

As with Heritage, employees of Westminster and Evenglow are being pre-screened before their shift for temperature or onset of respiratory illness, Riehle and Hovren said. Employees with a fever or illness will be asked to return to work when they are symptom-free.

"These are significant steps," Riehle said. "The community and staff and residents and families have been receptive."

The restrictions explain why some long-term care facilities — such as Heritage's Evergreen Place, Westminster and the McLean County Nursing Home — will no longer be used as polling places on Tuesday, with those polling places moving elsewhere.

Evenglow Inn and Evenglow Lodge are each used as polling places but modifications will be made.

"At the Lodge, we will ask voters to enter at a different door and walk directly into the room where voting takes place," Hovren said. "At the Inn, voters will be restricted to a path from the door to the room where voting takes place."

"We are taking what we think are reasonable steps at this time...to protect our vulnerable residents and staff," Hovren said.

Liberty Village in Clinton, Apostolic Christian Home of Roanoke and Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka also imposed visitor restrictions.

COLLECTION: Pantagraph coverage on the coronavirus

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Contact Paul Swiech at 309-820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech.

Kevin Barlow contributed to this report.

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