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Nursing homes in Will, Grundy counties restricting visitors

As of Wednesday evening, Regency Care in Morris was not allowing children or anyone with a fever to visit patients. By Thursday afternoon, Regency Care had suspended visitation.
As of Wednesday evening, Regency Care in Morris was not allowing children or anyone with a fever to visit patients. By Thursday afternoon, Regency Care had suspended visitation.

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I have a loved one at Regency Care of Morris, so in light of COVID-19, I always check for updated visitor restrictions.

When I called Wednesday evening, I was told no children and anyone with fever and coughing are not allowed to visit.

On Thursday afternoon, a relative told me the nursing home had called him and said "no visitation until further notice."

The COVID-19 outbreak is now officially a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

And the Illinois Department of Aging posted on its Facebook page today that area agencies on aging "suspend all gathering activities placing our older adults at heightened risk," including social activities and congregate meals.

Bill Nixon of Crest Hill, who regularly visits his stepmother at Alden Courts of Shorewood, said those visits are now suspended.

Nixon said his brother called him and told told him, "not to go over there again until I hear from him again" because Alden is not allowing anyone to visit patients, he said.

Up until this point, Nixon said he had not experienced any visitor's restrictions.

"I would just go visit her and now no one can from what I understand," Nixon said.

Janine Schoen, VP of operations and media spokesperson for Alden Management Services, said this does not mean Alden facilities are on lockdown or quarantine.

"We are taking precautionary measures to prevent our residents from the possibility of being exposed to COVID-19," Schoen said in an email. "To do so, we have requested visitors refrain from visiting the facility.  At this time, we do not have any cases in our facility."

Schoen said this is to ensure Alden's residents receive care in a "safe and healthy environment." She also said Alden "has been and continues to follow the recommendations of the CDC, state and local health departments with regards to COVID-19."

The CDC said some people are at greater risk of severe illness from this coronavirus. That includes the elderly and people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease.

This is why the CDC is recommending "aggressive visitor restrictions" even if COVID-19 has not been identified in a community or health care or longterm facility.

On March 11, The Lancet said patients with heart disease, diabetes and hypertension who took certain medications may have higher risk for severe illness.

For more information on the CDC's guidelines, visit

As of Wednesday afternoon, Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet was not restricting visitors. But it had just begun screening them, according to Toni Fitch, infection preventionist at Sunny Hill.

"The IDPH has given a list of suggestions of things to do," Fitch said. "At this point, we're screening all of our visitors and having all our staff members not come to work if they're sick."

"If the response is 'yes' to any of them, we ask them to postpone their visit for 14 days until after they are free of symptoms," Fitch said.

To read IDPH's list of screening questions, visit

On Thursday, Maggie McDowell, Sunny Hill's administrator, said anyone under age 18 may not visit and only visits with an "urgent need" will be allowed.

To read IDPH's list of screening questions, visit

In an email, Janet Long, public relations manager for Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers, said Morris Hospital began restricting visitors on Dec. 31 due to influenza: no one under age 18 may visit patients and no patient may have more than two visitors at any one time.

But on March 9, Morris Hospital added an additional restriction.

"Patients in isolation are now limited to two visitors total during their hospital stay," Long said. "So, they need to specify who their two visitors will be upon admission. This is so we can conserve our personal protective equipment (masks, gowns). If a patient in isolation has 10 different visitors throughout the day, that uses up a lot of our supplies."

Anyone with cold or flu symptoms should not visit hospitalized patients, which has always been the case at Morris Hospital, Long wrote.

Long said hospitals are receiving information each day form IDPH and the CDC. If their recommendations change, Morris Hospital will adjust their visitor recommendations.

For more information on Morris Hospital's visiting policy, visit

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox is currently following its flu season restrictions. According to an information sheet from Silver Cross, this includes no visitors under age 18, a limit of two visitors per room and staying home for 24 hours until symptom-free for potential visitors who are sick.

If visitors are allowed to visit an influenza patient in isolation (caregiver's discretion, the information sheet said), visitors must wear masks. For more information, visit

AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet also is restricting visitors.

Timothy A. Nelson, system director, communications and media relations for AMITA Health, said in an email, "We are not only being proactive with COVID-19, but, as we’re in the midst of flu season, we've had visitor restrictions in effect at all our hospitals since January."

"We've had visitor restrictions in effect at all our hospitals since January," Nelson said in an email.

Edward-Elmhurst Health is currently following its normal visiting hours and guidelines for Edward Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital and Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, according to information on its website at

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