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Veterans home hit by coronavirus

Updated April 1, 2020 - 3:11 pm

One resident at the Southern Nevada State Veterans Home has died and four others have tested positive for the coronavirus.

A statement released Saturday, March 28, evening said an 86-year-old man died from complications related to COVID-19 earlier that day after being transported from the home and admitted to the hospital.

“Our hearts are extremely heavy,” said Katherine Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. “We mourn the passing of this Navy Korean War veteran who served our nation with honor and dignity in its hour of need. He was also a beloved member of our veterans home community and will be deeply missed. On behalf of everyone at the Nevada Department of Veterans Services and the Southern Nevada State Veterans Home, we offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. We grieve with them.”

Three residents tested positive for the virus March 27 and the home learned of another Tuesday, March 31, said Terri Hendry, communications director for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.

The residents remain in isolation, following local, state and federal guidelines, she said.

“Please be aware, this is a snapshot in time and these numbers and conditions could change,” she added.

Hendry said the veterans home was able to obtain enough kits to test every resident as well as all of its employees. It began testing everyone at the home Tuesday.

“We are receiving assistance from VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System as well as the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory to conduct this testing and get the results back as quickly as possible,” Hendry said.

Nineteen residents who were getting over or exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms were among those in the first round of testing at the veterans home.

“We are committed to doing everything in our power to protect our residents and staff from the spread of this virus and will remain vigilant in our efforts to do so,” Miller said. “We know they (staff members) are doing everything in their power to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep our community safe. All possible resources are being made available to support them in their critical work.”

“As you may well imagine, this is a challenging time but everyone who is caring for our veterans are being extremely brave, courageous and dedicated to the job,” Hendry added.

The department began taking precautions against the virus in February, including updating its pandemic plan with COVID-19 response protocols, requiring screening for all who entered the facility and limiting access to just health care personnel.

Those who would like to offer a message of support to the veterans and staff members are invited to send a one-minute video from their cellphones to https://bit.ly/2QZrYNO.

“Just say your name, where you are from and a simple message. It can be as short as ‘Thank you for your service’ or ‘Please know we are thinking about you and support you. Stay strong!’” Hendry said.

The veterans home also has set up a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week COVID-19 update line at 702-332-6705 that the community, residents and families can call to get the latest information on the public health crisis. The line is updated every day, including weekends, by noon.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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