MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) continues to follow precautionary measures at the state’s four veterans homes to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus during this state and national crisis.
On March 12, the ADVA and the contracted state veterans homes’ care provider, Health Management Resources (HMR), implemented a policy that restricts visitations at the homes to only staff, necessary external medical personnel, and immediate families of residents facing end-of-life situations, to control the exposure of the virus to employees and residents. The state veterans homes additionally began testing employees and residents that exhibited symptoms of the virus, and were among the first long-term skilled care facilities in the state to implement restrictive visitation and testing procedures in response to the pandemic.
Almost a month after implementing the visitation policy and following emergency guidelines by the Alabama Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ADVA reported the first COVID-19 case on April 8 at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City. Additional tests confirm that 25 residents and 18 staff members at the home have now tested positive for the virus. Two residents at the home that tested positive for the virus, ages 89 and 99, have succumbed to their multiple comorbidities. Two employees of the William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette have also tested positive.
“We want to assure the families of those veterans entrusted in our care, and to the communities, that our professional and dedicated staff at the state veterans homes are following all necessary precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus by screening and testing residents and employees of the COVID-19 virus,” said ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis. “In addition to precautionary measures in place, the staff are adequately supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as facemasks and gloves, to protect them and the veterans in their care from contracting the virus,” added Davis.
Residents who test positive for the virus are moved to isolation areas inside the homes for further care and treatment. Employees who exhibit symptoms of the virus are prohibited entry into facility. ADVA and HMR are working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health, CDC, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on all reported positive cases.
ADVA manages state veterans homes in Alexander City, Bay Minette, Huntsville and Pell City with a population of more than 700 veterans. There have been no reported positive cases of the virus at the Huntsville and Pell City state veterans homes as of the date of this release.
Information about ADVA’s veterans homes visitation policy and other precautionary measures the department is taking in its response to the COVID-19 crisis is posted to the department’s website at www.va.alabama.gov.