Veterans homes have been hit with some of the deadliest outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S.der Investigation After 27 Deaths in 4-Week COVID-19 Outbreak
The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating a COVID-19 veterans home outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans Home near Chicago, Illinois. Nearly 200 residents and staff were infected in 5 weeks, resulting in 27 deaths. According to reports, a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 in late October.
Since the beginning of November, the virus spread to infect two-thirds of residents and staff. According to Illinois State Senator Sue Rezin, who represents the district where the home is located: “November 4th, there were only four cases of COVID within the home. Very quickly within the past 20 days, we’ve had almost 200 cases.”
Justice Dept. Investigates Veterans Homes in 4 States After Deadly Coronavirus Outbreaks
In October 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that is was investigating coronavirus outbreaks at veterans homes in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan after hundreds of deaths.
In New Jersey, at least 190 residents died after COVID-19 outbreaks at two state-run veterans homes – the Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park and the Veterans Home at Paramu, New Jersey.
New Jersey currently has the highest coronavirus death-rate in the nation. More than 7,200 residents and staff at long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19 since March 4, which is 45% of all COVID deaths in the state.
Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Hit With Class Action After 76 Deaths
In July 2020, a federal class action lawsuit was filed by family of a Korean War veteran who died of COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. The outbreak killed at least 76 residents and infected 84 others during an 11-week period from March 25 to June 12.
Family of U.S. Army Veteran Files COVID-19 Death Lawsuit
In May 2020, the grieving family of a U.S. Army veteran who died of COVID-19 filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hollywood Premier Healthcare Center in California, where at least 16 residents died and over 100 infections occurred.
The lawsuit was filed by the family of Vincent M., 84, who died on April 4. His daughters were not told about his illness until 3 days before his death. Furthermore, they claim they saw staff failing to wear masks and gloves.
The lawsuit also claims there has been a “long-standing practice of keeping the nursing home understaffed and skirting safety and infection controls.”
Deadly Coronavirus Outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home
At least 76 veterans died of coronavirus at the Holyoke Soldier’s Home, making it the deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. at any nursing home. The death-toll skyrocketed within weeks. More than 160 other residents and employees have also tested positive.
Veterans’ Home Had Staffing Shortages for Years
The veterans’ home in Massachusetts has had staffing shortages for years. Because staffing was so tight, employees frequently traveled between units to help out, bringing viruses with them. The residents were also crammed together as units shut down due to a lack of staff.
“Veterans were on top of each other,” one employee said. “We didn’t know who was positive and who was negative and then they grouped people together. … That’s when it really blew up.”
Lawsuit Claims VA Puts Veterans At Risk of Coronavirus
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been hit with a lawsuit from veterans who say the VA is risking their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic by closing 56 regional offices and forcing veterans to attend in-person exams or risk losing their benefits.
Older Adults May Have Unusual Symptoms of COVID-19
Many veterans are older adults who do not have typical symptoms of COVID-19, according to the CDC. Instead, they may show unusual coronavirus symptoms:
- Seeming “off” — not acting like themselves
- Sleeping more than usual
- Not eating
- Seeming unusually apathetic, confused or disoriented
- Painful swallowing
- Dizziness or headache
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or congestion