The Missouri Veterans Commission’s Veterans Homes continue to fight COVID-19, and according to spokesman Jamie Melchert, they are continuing daily testing using PCR and antigen testing; training on the proper use of PPE and enhanced PPE; cleaning and disinfecting and enhanced training in these areas; infection control inspections and additional training; additional supervision, including from central office leadership. The commission’s homes are also using medical staffing from the VA and Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team (MO DMAT-1).
A total of 109 veterans in seven MVC homes have died due to COVID-19 from September through Nov. 18, as nursing homes across the Midwest have seen dramatic increases in cases and deaths in the past two weeks. About two-thirds of the COVID-19 deaths in Missouri’s nursing homes have happened in the same time frame. The St. Louis Post reported that as of Nov. 8, the virus has killed 1,680 residents, 263 more than just the previous two weeks.
Armstrong Teasdale corporate law firm began conducting an independent investigation of Missouri’s Veterans Homes on Oct. 12, at the request of Governor Mike Parson. A final report has not been released, but according to Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who oversees the commission, air flow systems were part of the challenge.
Kehoe emphasized that the state’s veterans homes suffer some of the same challenges that other long-term care facilities do.
“It’s a vulnerable population,” Kehoe said. “You have employees and vendors in those homes that actually go out and maybe have another job, or go out to their families and could contract the virus and bring it back in.”
Veteran deaths by facility between Sept. 1 and Nov. 18, 2020:
- Cameron 37
- Cape Girardeau 29
- Mexico 5
- Mt. Vernon 9
- St. James 22
- St. Louis 1
- Warrensburg 7