Pennsylvania’s six veterans homes house over 900 residents, with about 90% of them being men in their 80s. Studies show that men are statistically more susceptible than women for experiencing adverse effects from COVID-19 due to co-morbidity rates being higher in men. In Pennsylvania’s public and private long-term care facilities, women make up 70-80% of residents.
DMVA’S six Veterans Homes are testing all employees and residents on a recurring schedule in accordance with CMS and PA Dept. of Health guidelines, as well as those who are demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever or cough. We have taken great measures to safeguard our employees and residents. When the concerns over COVID-19 first surfaced, staff at our Veterans Homes reviewed and updated infection prevention and control plans in preparation for a possible outbreak. We also implemented heightened safety measures to include restricting visitors, canceling outings, discontinuing group activities, ceasing the use of volunteers, conducting daily health screenings for employees, and putting new admissions on hold.
The challenges that DMVA veterans homes have faced are not different than what most other long-term care facilities are facing nationwide. Though we currently have adequate Personal Protective Equipment, such as N-95 masks, surgical masks, face shield, booties, head protection and gloves, we are continually working to keep enough stock of these items to prevent shortages in the future.
Any resident who leaves one of our homes and wants to be re-admitted at a later time would need to re-apply and go through the admissions process all over again. This would include re-assessing their current medical condition. Additionally, each home maintains a wait list and our policy is to admit veterans based on the date they were added to the wait list. DMVA is contiuing to accept applications and will work those applications from the top of the waitlist to the bottom. Priority is based upon date stamp approval of the applications. DMVA will continue to monitor the current CDC guidelines and allow new admissions only when applicable to provide safety for that applicant and the current census already living at the home.
Each veterans home has put a focus on resident and family communication during COVID-19. Every resident has either a representative or an individual with Power of Attorney (POA) to whom the home provides regular updates regarding any changes in medical conditions of the resident or their individual care plan. Due to HIPPA requirements, it is up to the representative or POA to inform the rest of the family. Additionally, our homes have facilitated many web meetings, window visits, and phones calls for family members to connect with their loved ones.
We take the concerns of our residents, their families and staff very seriously. If you ever feel that you are not being treated appropriately, we want to hear from you. We have compiled this list of resources to help you have a voice, so please don't hesitate to speak up!