Chicago—April 1, 2020—The Illinois Nurses Association today cautioned state government and the health care system officials that an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Statesville Correctional Center in Joliet is likely to put additional pressure of resources needed by nurses and physicians working at Amita St. Joseph’s Medical Center(AJMC) in Joliet, Ill., as well as surrounding hospitals.

INA learned this week that 12 correctional center staff tested positive while 187 staff await results.  Additionally, 14 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 77 have shown symptoms.  Hospitals in the Joliet area have begun treating these patients and it’s likely all Joliet-area hospitals will be taxed to capacity.

“A shortage of personal protective equipment and ventilators at St. Joseph’s and surrounding hospitals puts additional pressure on nurses and health care workers and providing them adequate protection is essential,” said Alice Johnson, executive director of the INA. 

Johnson has concerns over rationing of the personal protective equipment for nurses at St. Joseph’s. “Nurses have been instructed to re-use their masks for their entire shift or until they lose integrity.”

"There are not enough nurses in the ER, ICU and the COVID-19 unit,” said Pat Meade, RN at ASJMC. “Runners are needed to assist the nurse because we can't leave the critical patients.”  Meade expressed frustration that nurses’ advice on public health preparation was not taken as seriously as it should have been. 

“Nurses are the most respected profession in the country.  We are at the bedside every day, yet our opinions are often not adhered too,” she said.

INA represents nurses who work for the State of Illinois at mental health facilities, correctional centers, veteran’s administration homes, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Public Health.

Earlier this week, INA learned that 18 nurses who work at the University of Illinois Hospital tested positive.