For the first time since March 2020, Missouri’s seven veterans homes are once again accepting applications for new residents. Due to the pandemic, new admissions had not been allowed since then.

The state-operated nursing homes caring for veterans are located in Cameron, Cape Girardeau, Mexico, Mount Vernon, St. James, St. Louis, and Warrensburg.

A coronavirus outbreak last year within the homes claimed the lives of at least 158 veterans. A press release from the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC) says there have been no COVID-19 cases among patients in any of the homes since the end of January.

“In addition to complying with infection control guidance set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), MVC has implemented daily COVID-19 testing protocols for all staff and veterans along with continual infection control training. MVC has created a phased reopening approach based on real-time monitoring of the coronavirus in each Home and each community’s positivity rate,” the press release says.

Commission Spokeswoman Aimee Packard tells Missourinet real-time active staff testing/monitoring has identified three staff members are currently infected with the virus. Following a positive staff case, she says the individual must isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days, and MVC enacts the CDC Return to Work protocol for health care personnel. Any close contacts are isolated, and all staff complete an infection control refresher.

Following MVC protocols, Packard says the homes with active cases have canceled indoor visitation, deep cleaned any location the positive staff member has been and completed contact tracing.

To be eligible for admission to a Missouri veterans home, an individual must meet the criteria for veteran status established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and require 24-hour skilled nursing health care services. Eligibility and admission decisions are made by a team comprising the home administrator, physician, director of nursing, social worker, Veterans Service Officer, and other professionals as needed. The following are also requirements for eligibility.

• The veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable;
• The veteran must be a resident of Missouri who has maintained a physical residency in Missouri for 180 consecutive days (6 months) immediately prior to application for placement in a veterans home;
• The veteran must have documentation from a physician that he/she needs skilled nursing home care;
• The veteran’s health condition must be such that the home has the resources to care for him/her.

Veterans must have a negative coronavirus PCR test prior to admission. The commission strongly encourages all veterans to be fully vaccinated before admission to avoid a mandatory two-week quarantine upon arrival for non-vaccinated veterans.

Packard says the homes are allowing outdoor visits with family and friends and outings for the veterans.

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