Coronavirus

COVID-19 updates for family members and representatives of residents

Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 and the Veterans Homes Visitor Policy for Residents and their Families

March 24, 2020

Dear Veterans Home Family or Representative,

 

We are sending this letter in our continuing effort to keep you informed of how our Homes are modifying services during the COVID-19 crisis. 

As of today, we have no cases of COVID-19 in any of our Veterans Homes.  Our priority remains keeping our residents, our staff, and you safe and healthy.  The changes we’ve had to make to do this have been hard on everyone, especially our residents and you their family and friends. 

Testing Update as of March 24 at 8:40am:

RESIDENTS

    Residents with a positive COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 0
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 0
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 0
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 0

     Residents with a negative COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 4
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 1
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 3
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 1

     Total number of residents tested:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 5
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 1
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 6
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 2

STAFF 

     Staff with a positive COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 0
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 0
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 0
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 0

      Staff with a negative COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 2
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 0
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 1
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 0

      Total number of staff tested:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 5
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 3
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 2
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 1

This information is updated frequently on our website at www.dva.wa.gov/covid.

Also included with this letter is a list of frequently asked questions regarding visitors, COVID-19 testing, and other topics. 

Staff in our homes are doing the very best they can to keep residents active and engaged by offering new in-room or appropriately socially-distanced activities in the Homes.  They are also working hard to schedule and assist with virtual visits using technology.  We ask for your patience as we continue to learn some of this new technology along with you and our residents!  We might not get it right the first few times, but over time, we will all get better at this!

Here are some of the things our Activities and Social Work staff are doing to work with residents and provide emotional support:

WA Soldiers Home:

  • Modifications to many programs to be suitable for 1:1 visits.
  • Distribution of supplies for use during residents’ free time.
  • Music programs using I-Pods, resident radio/stereos & TVs.
  • Cards and word puzzles are being distributed.
  • Mobile exercise equipment that can be sterilized between resident visits is being used.
  • Computer class is implemented on an individual basis.
  • Craft kits and other arts & crafts supplies are being distributed.
  • Newspaper articles are being copied and distributed.
  • Trivia questions are also distributed.
  • Bus drivers are assisting with personal shopping for resident’s personal snacks and beverages.
  • Reminiscing is provided using residents’ personal belongings, as well as supplies that can be mobilized.

Spokane Veterans Home:

  • Activity carts throughout the facility including Talking books and Music and Memory I-Pods
  • Dress-up days once a week such as western day, ugly sweater/shirt day, mis-match day, crazy hat day, sports day, etc.
  • Fun facts handouts and posters giving veterans and staff interesting things and quotes to talk about.
  • An arts contest is in the works! 
  • For families with Apple Phones, we now have an I-Pad and can schedule a Face Time call with you!  If you have another device, just let us know how we can set up a virtual visit.
  • If you’d like to send photos for staff to share with your resident, please send them to JeanetteS@DVA.WA.GOV.
  • Our activities team is hear for you so let them know how else we can help!

Walla Walla Veterans Home

  • In addition to our regular activities staff, other employees are assisting in each house to ensure residents have access to activities.
  • We’ve started room bingo.
  • Individual arts and craft kits are available.
  • Staff are observing residents and making referrals to social work as well.

Washington Veterans Home, Port Orchard

  • Modified the popular exercise group – Core Building – to offer it 3 times a day on Friday’s. Those who want to participate have an assigned class times so they have plenty of social distance between each other.
  • A weekend room to room gourmet coffee and hot chocolate service.
  • Spring activity packet including a short story writing prompt and contest, word search, maze and crossword puzzle.  (2 levels of difficulty offered, very difficult and easy)
  • A Sunday spiritual packet including Books of the Old Testament word search, Easter Trivia, the Lord’s Prayer and a Walk by Faith coloring sheet.
  • Once a week, room to room fresh baked cookies using a toaster oven.
  • Room to room Nail care day. 
  • In the Memory Care Unit, our focus is on hand washing, which assists with good hygiene and provides 1 on 1 social interactions.
  • Streaming different live cameras in the activity rooms. Examples are the Monterey Bay Aquarium Penguins, and a Panda-cam.  The channels offer relaxing out-of-room activities, but don’t draw large crowds like a movie or entertainment group would.
  • We have opened our DVD video lending cabinets so residents can access the 100’s of DVDs we have without a staff member needing to open the case.
  • Other creative activities include room bingo and individual arts and craft kits

While you’ve probably seen some very heartwarming stories about residents ‘visiting’ through the windows with their family members, now that we are under a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from Governor Inslee, we ask that you please follow this order.  We will only prevent the spread of COVID-19 if we all do our part to limit the opportunity for the virus to spread, which includes staying home unless travel is essential.

I want to thank you for your cooperation and understanding through all of the changes that are taking place.  Our staff are working hard to keep your loved one safe and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate their work.  We will continue to update the WDVA Website with messages like this as well as updates on COVID-19 tests performed and their outcomes. www.dva.wa.gov/covid

If you have questions, please contact us.


March 18, 2020

One additional Spokane Veterans Home resident has been hospitalized and is being tested, and one Spokane Veterans Home staff member is being tested.

Two additional residents at the Washington Veterans Home, Port Orchard are being tested.

One staff member at the Washington Soldiers Home is being tested.


March 16, 2020

Two Spokane Veterans Home residents have been hospitalized and are being tested for COVID-19.  Results will be shared as soon as they are received.

Correction regarding staff being tested at the Walla Walla Veterans Home: Only 1 staff person has been tested, the other individual who initially indicated they were tested was not tested for COVID-19.  The results of the staff person who was tested are still pending as of today.


March 14, 2020

Dear Veterans Home Family or Representative,

We are sending this letter in our continuing effort to keep each of you informed of any updates to COVID-19 testing taking place, and new visitor restrictions announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

As of today, we have no cases of COVID-19 in any of our Veterans Homes.

Three of our four Veterans Homes have had either a resident or staff person be tested for COVID-19. 

On March 13, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new guidance to nursing homes regarding restricting visitors to protect nursing home safety in the face of the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The rules are effective immediately.

These changes to visitation at our Veterans Homes include:

  • Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
  • Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
  • Cancelling all group activities and communal dining; and
  • Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Please know that we are aware of the difficulties this presents to residents and families at our State Veterans Homes. We appreciate your understanding and patience.  Regulation changes are happening frequently and we understand that the lack of notice is challenging for you and your loved one.  We invite families to use video or teleconferencing options to stay in touch.  Please contact us if you would like assistance with setting up a phone or video call.

For more information on these changes, please visit:

https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-new-measures-protect-nursing-home-residents-covid-19

We will continue to provide regular updates here and on our website at: www.dva.wa.gov/covid.  If you have questions, please contact us.


March 13, 2020

Dear Walla Walla Veterans Homes Family or Representative,
We are sending out this post in our continuing effort to keep each of you informed of any updates to COVID-19 testing taking place, and our on-going preparedness with regard to COVID-19. Our staff are currently working on sending out letters and making phone calls to families.
On March 12, a Walla Walla Veterans Home (WWVH) staff member was advised by their physician to seek COVID-19 testing at the Walla Walla County Health Department.
The test was performed yesterday, March 12, 2020 and the staff member is self-quarantining at home. The results of this test should be available within 72 hours and we will share the results with you as soon as we receive them.
As precautions to protect our Residents and staff, we are taking the following measures:
• A thorough cleaning of Hudson/Kirkman and Stevens/Whitman will be performed.
• Only essential staff will enter the Hudson/Kirkman and Stevens/Whitman Neighborhoods.
• Hudson/Kirkman and Stevens/Whitman Residents will be placed on alert charting and monitored for fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If a Resident develops symptoms, special droplet precautions will be used.
• Hudson/Kirkman and Stevens/Whitman Residents will be encouraged to remain in their rooms with the doors closed as much as possible
• All WWVH group activities and public dining are cancelled and Residents will eat meals in their rooms.
We are aware of the difficulties this will present to Residents at the Walla Walla Veterans Home and their families and ask for your patience and understanding as we go forward to meet the challenges ahead.
We understand how important it is for family members to communicate with your loved ones, and we encourage you to connect with them through Skype, calls, texts or emails. Our staff can also assist in setting this up if needed.
As the Coronavirus outbreak continues in our state, our goal is to continue to provide the most relevant and accurate information to our veterans and their families.
When the results are received, we will share that information on this page. You can also check our website at www.dva.wa.gov/covid for additional information.

March 10, 2020

Dear Veterans Homes Family or Representative,

We are sending this letter in our continuing effort to keep each of you informed of our on-going preparedness with regard to COVID-19 and Governor Inslee’s Proclamation and new rules for all nursing homes.

WASHINGTON VETERANS HOME, PORT ORCHARD:

  • The Washington Veterans Home does not have any residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. Two residents were tested on Monday, March 9 for COVID-19 using the criteria established by the CDC and Washington Department of Health. The residents are remaining in their rooms and staff are using appropriate precautions while caring for them. We will follow-up with you when results are returned to us within several days.

WASHINGTON SOLDIERS HOME IN ORTING, SPOKANE VETERANS HOME, AND WALLA WALLA VETERANS HOME:

  • At this time, we have no suspected cases of COVID-19 virus in our Home.  All of our facilities continue to take proactive steps to prevent the spread of any illnesses, including influenza. 

We are actively educating staff, residents and families on symptom awareness for COVID-19 and have clear protocols for staff to stay home and not come to work if they are ill or symptomatic.

If a resident exhibits any type of respiratory symptoms, the resident will be kept in their room and monitored for any increase in cough, fever, or other symptoms.  Culturing samples will be initiated and sent to the laboratory for results if either Influenza or COVID-19 infections are suspected. 

We will follow all Washington Department of Health and local health department recommendations or orders of isolation or quarantine.

We are also implementing Governor Inslee’s Proclamation for nursing care facilities. 

The following rules will be in effect immediately through midnight on April 9, 2020:

  • Visiting hours are limited each day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
  • All visitors must enter using the front main entrance.
  • Residents may only have one adult visitor per day. Visits must take place in the resident’s room.  (This does not apply in end of life situations.)
  • Visitors must show identification and sign into the visitor’s log to include: date, time in, time out, name, phone number and email address (if available).
  • All visitors, employees, vendors and volunteers will be screened for fever.  Those with a fever of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to enter.
  • All visitors, employees, vendors and volunteers will be asked the following screening questions.  If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions you will need to reschedule your visit.
  1. Do you have a new or worsening cough or difficulty breathing?
  2. Do you have flu-like symptoms?
  3. Have you traveled outside of the country in the last two weeks?
  4. Have you been in contact with someone, including health care workers, confirmed to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
  5. Have you been in contact with a person who is under investigation for COVID-19?

If you are unable to visit and would like to discuss opportunities to virtually visit with your loved one, please contact the Activities Director to determine whether we can set up a video call.

Please know that maintaining the health, wellness and safety of your loved one is our number one priority. We have emergency preparedness and infection prevention and control plans in place, which address how we prepare for and manage infectious disease outbreaks. We are incorporating new information on COVID-19 into those procedures as it becomes available. Our staff are trained in infection control practices and follow established protocols based on that training.

With this also being flu season, staff already have a heightened awareness of the risks posed to our residents/tenants by respiratory illnesses and the vital importance of effective infection control practices. If you or anyone in your family has not yet received an influenza vaccination, we encourage you to do so. 

We continue to closely monitor the latest information from the Washington Department of Health (WA DOH) https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID-19,  County Public Health Departments, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/COVID-19/2019-ncov/index.html, and we are working with public health and emergency preparedness officials to strengthen our preparation.

You are a key partner in keeping yourself and others healthy—wash your hands often; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

We appreciate your cooperation as we go forward to meet the challenges ahead.  I am also particularly grateful for the experience and commitment being displayed by all of the team members in this effort.  Please take a moment to thank and acknowledge them on your visits.

Communication is key, and we will continue to update you on important news or emerging issues. Please visit Washington Department of Veterans Affairs http://www.dva.wa.gov/covid for regular updates and contact us at communications@dva.wa.gov with any questions or concerns you may have.

COVID-19 TESTING
RESIDENTS

    Residents with a positive COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 0
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 0
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 0
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 0

     Residents with a negative COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 5
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 1
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 6
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 2

       Total number of residents tested:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 5
  • WASoldiers Home in Orting: 1
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 7
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 4

STAFF 

     Staff with a positive COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 0
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 0
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 0
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 0

      Staff with a negative COVID-19 test:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 3
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 1
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 1
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 1

        Total number of staff tested:

  • WA Veterans Home in Port Orchard: 7
  • WA Soldiers Home in Orting: 3
  • Spokane Veterans Home: 2
  • Walla Walla Veterans Home: 2

     Updated at 4:20pm 3/28/20

March 3, 2020

Dear Veterans Homes Family or Representative,

We are writing to keep you informed on the status of our Veterans Home in regard to the Coronavirus or COVID-19.  Our goal is to ensure your loved one is well cared for and safe, and we hope this information will be helpful to you at home as well.

At this time, we have no suspected cases of this new virus in our Home.  All of our facilities are taking proactive steps to prevent the spread of any airborne illnesses, including influenza.  These include:

  • Frequent handwashing and use of hand sanitizer;
  • Asking staff and visitors to stay home if they are ill;
  • Increased environmental cleaning, including handrails and door handles;
  • Monitoring residents for signs of illness and communicating with our County Health Department;
  • Requesting that family members postpone or limit their visits;
  • Posting signs at all entrances asking people not to visit if they are sick;
  • Posting Coronavirus fact sheets and hand sanitizer stations near entrances;
  • Refresher training for staff on infection control and stopping the spread of illness.

We are also monitoring the emotional well-being of our residents which may be impacted by the situational distress caused by Coronavirus or other illnesses in the Homes.

At the agency level, we are increasing communication among central office and all four State Veterans Homes.  Each of our Veterans Homes has enough supplies, including personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns.  We are continuing to work with our suppliers to ensure we are able to purchase more supplies as they become available.  The collaboration between our four Homes will help us to ensure we each have the resources, equipment, and staffing needed. 

Attached are several links to information from our Department of Health and the CDC on how to prevent illness at home.

Coronavirus Fact Sheet

Information for Parents and Caretakers