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​PA Veterans Homes-Specific
COVID-19 Updates

The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ highest priority has been, and remains, the health and safety of the nearly 1,300 residents we serve and the dedicated staff who serve them. Please review the information below to learn how our six Veterans Homes continue to serve Pennsylvania veterans during COVID-19.

(Updated May 26, 2020)

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are some basic facts regarding COVID-19?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) takes anywhere from two to 14 days to incubate. Medical experts agree that COVID-19 has a greater adverse effect on those with co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Is the area where the Southeastern Veterans’ Center (SEVC) is located considered a hotspot for COVID-19?

The SEVC is located in Spring City, Chester County. Additionally, the majority of the SEVC staff live in a three-county area: Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties. These three counties are collectively considered to be a hotspot area given that they account for 19% of all COVID-19 cases and 23% of COVID-19 deaths throughout the commonwealth. This hotspot also accounts for 28% of all long-term care resident deaths throughout Pennsylvania.

What is the basic demographic difference between Pennsylvania’s Veterans Homes and other long-term care facilities regarding residents?

Pennsylvania’s six veterans homes house nearly 1,300 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.

What is the difference between testing COVID positive and EPI Link?

A person testing COVID positive means that a COVID laboratory test was administered resulting in a positive test for COVID-19. The term Epi-link means a resident developed symptoms after being in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Epi-link is used to help identify residents who are probable for COVID-19 and should be placed in quarantine. This allows medical professionals to prioritize the use of testing resources that are in shortage.

Do all long-term care facilities test residents and employees for COVID?

We cannot speak for all long-term care facilities, but our Pennsylvania Veterans Homes are testing all employees and residents 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 the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ (DMVA) six veterans homes reviewed and updated infection prevention and control plans in preparation for a possible outbreak. DMVA 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.

What are some of the challenges that you have experienced in dealing with the COVID-19 virus?

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 stock these items, which are in shortage through standard supply chains. Early-on when dealing with COVID-19, we faced the same national challenge of being able to test our staff and residents, either at external testing sites or by using swab kits onsite. Though access to testing has improved, we are still working toward better testing capabilities with a quicker turnaround for test results.

If I remove my loved one from your facility during this crisis, would I be able to immediately place them back into the facility once COVID-19 is over?

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 not accepting new applicants during COVID-19.

Considering there is restricted visitation at PA Veterans Homes, how can I contact my loved one?

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.

How do I obtain information regarding a loved one at a PA Veterans Home?
The best way to get information about a resident is for that person’s representative or POA to call the home. It is important that the POA then shares information with the rest of the family. Family members can also stay connected with residents through videoconference, window visits, e-mail and phone calls. Loved ones are also encouraged to read a home’s monthly newsletter to see photos and read stories about what residents are doing to keep busy during COVID-19. To access a newsletter, go to www.veteranshomes.pa.gov.
Who can I contact if I have a concern or complaint?

​We take concerns from our residents and their families very seriously. Residents and family members can utilize DMVA’s Resident Grievance Process, contact the PA Dept. of Aging Ombudsman, contact the PA Dept. of Health’s Division of Nursing Care Facilities, or contact Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, DMVA’s adjutant general and head of DMVA, via CONTACT US with any concerns or complaints.  

Status Report

As of May 25, throughout our system of six veterans homes: 52 staff have tested positive for COVID-19; 114 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 (of which 36 are confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 14 are probable COVID-19 deaths).

The PA Dept. of Health has released data on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania at the bottom of this page. The data provides the number of cases, number of employee cases and number of deaths that have occurred at each facility.

Other General Veterans Home Information

Admissions 

Applications for residency are still being accepted at each home, but in order to safeguard against COVID-19, at this time individuals will only be added to a WAIT LIST until a time when the homes begin to allow new residents and there is a bed available that meets the specific needs of each applicant. For more information, including how to apply to a veterans home, please visit the Pennsylvania Veterans Homes website.

Concerns or Complaints from Residents/Families

We take concerns from our residents and their families very seriously. Residents and family members can utilize DMVA’s Resident Grievance Process, contact the PA Dept. of Aging Ombudsman, contact the PA Dept. of Health’s Division of Nursing Care Facilities, or contact Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, DMVA’s adjutant general and head of DMVA, via CONTACT US with any concerns or complaints.  

Contact Us

    • Toll free – 1-800-547-2838
    • Email – RA-MVVA-HOMES@PA.gov
    • Mail – Bureau of Veterans Homes, Bldg. 0-47, Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003-5002

Donations

DMVA is grateful for all the well wishes we are receiving for not only the residents at our six veterans homes, but for the staff who care for them. Many are asking how they can volunteer or what to donate to help. Here are some details:
 
    • Personal Protective Equipment Donations: DMVA’s six veterans homes are accepting donations of personal protective equipment such as: medical/surgical masks, washable homemade masks, face shields, goggles, washable surgical gowns, hand sanitizer and vinyl gloves. You can donate these items by contacting each Home directly to coordinate a drop-off:
      • Delaware Valley Veterans' Home (Philadelphia County), 215-856-2846
      • Gino J. Merli Veterans' Center (Lackawanna County), 570-961-4380
      • Hollidaysburg Veterans' Home (Blair County), 814-696-5371
      • Pennsylvania Soldiers' and Sailors' Home (Erie County), 814-878-4961
      • Southeastern Veterans’ Center (Chester County), 610-948-2418
      • Southwestern Veterans' Center (Allegheny County), 412-665-6790

    • Monetary Donations: We often receive questions from the community about how they can support our residents. As we safeguard the health of our residents due to COVID-19, we are placing extra emphasis on helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle through fun and interactive activities. These activities are often funded through each home’s Resident Welfare Fund. Donate to a Veterans Home

Employment

 
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is hiring nurses, offering competitive pay, benefits and opportunities to grow. As a Commonwealth employee, you will embark on a rewarding career and make a difference in the lives of veterans! Apply today!

Service of Process during the COVID-19 Emergency

Designated POC: Deputy Chief Counsel Leonard Cowitch:
Phone: 717-861-8503
Email Resource Account: RA-MVDMVA-CCO@pa.gov

Visitation

The health and safety of the residents and staff at our veterans homes is our No. 1 priority. To safeguard against COVID-19, we have instituted a restriction on visitors for the foreseeable future. Family members and other loved ones are still welcome to communicate with residents through electronic or digital means. Additionally, a residents’ Representative or Power of Attorney is encouraged to contact the clinical treatment teams at each home should they have any questions or concerns. Visit the Pennsylvania Veterans Homes website for updates.

Volunteers

We genuinely thank you for your interest, but the use of volunteers at our veterans homes has been suspended during COVID-19.

Other DMVA COVID-19 Updates

For details visit the DMVA-Specific COVID-19 Updates web page.