Department of Veterans Affairs now adopting a 'no visitor' policy at all VA nursing homes

Report: VA hospital left body in shower room for 9 hours
Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 06:29:48-04

The Department of Veterans Affairs is now adopting a "no visitor" policy at all VA nursing homes. Also, all veterans or visitors trying to enter any VA hospital or clinic will be screened for coronavirus.

That applies to Milwaukee's VA Medical Center, where everyone - including staff - will be screened before being allowed in the hospital. Veterans and visitors will also only be able to access the east and south entrances.

Patients in the facility's nursing home and Spinal Cord Injury Center will not be able to have visitors. The only exception is if a patient is in the last stage of life, in which case loved ones will be allowed in one room.

Veterans with fever, cough, or shortness of breath are being advised to call the nurse triage line at 1-888-469-6614 before showing up at Milwaukee's VA Medical Center.

It's not just group activities and public events on the VA campus getting canceled. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flights for March and April are now postponed.

"I guess it's important to be cautious," said Steve Nick, a Vietnam Veteran.

Nick took the flight a few years ago and feels for the veterans who were scheduled to go, and now can't.

"I still get emotional thinking about my trip to D.C.," he said. "Seeing the monuments, being saluted, and the crowds cheering us at the airport. It's a beautiful thing."

The CDC warning people over the age of 60 to avoid non-essential air travel. A lot of honor flight participants have underlying health issues.

"We were reluctant to make this decision," said Paula Nelson, the President of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. "While the risk may be small to some at this point, it's just too great to put even one veteran at risk. We can't guarantee that they won't come in contact with someone who's had the virus."

The organization has never had to cancel or postpone a flight before. It's already working with airlines to reschedule the March and April trips, and promises the veterans being affected will be put on future honor flights.

But, the postponement of honor flights could continue. The organization plans to reevaluate in a few weeks, to determine if the flight scheduled for May will still go on.

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