WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced new safeguards to limit the new coronavirus exposure risks to two of its most susceptible patients: nursing home residents and spinal-cord injury patients.
Starting March 10 until further notice, all 134 VA nursing homes across the country, housing more than 41,000 veterans, will not allow any outside visitors to see residents.
The only exception will be in compassionate cases where a veteran is in their last stages of life on hospice units. In those specific cases, visitors will be limited to the veteran's room only.
The announcement included suspending new admissions into nursing homes. Veterans Affairs nursing homes will continue to welcome resident transfers from VA facilities, once medical personnel have determined patients are not at risk for infection from COVID-19 or transmitting COVID-19.
The VA said nursing home staff will also be actively screened daily for the new coronavirus and dedicated to working at Community Living Centers.
“While the COVID-19 risk to average Americans remains low, these commonsense measures will help protect some of our most vulnerable patients,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA will make every effort to minimize the impact of these policies on Veterans while putting patient safety first.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also limiting visitors' access to the 24,000 veterans in major spinal cord injury and disorder centers. No visitors will be allowed to see inpatients, with the only exceptions if a veteran is in their last stages of life.