Dozens of coronavirus cases confirmed at GR veterans’ home

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is dealing with a coronavirus outbreak, recording nearly twice as many cases in the last two weeks as it had in the previous seven months.

Forty-five residents tested positive between Nov. 27 and Thursday, Fred Schaible of the Michigan Veterans Facilities Board of Managers confirmed to News 8. He added the first two people who tested positive were being released from isolation Thursday.

Sixteen staff members have also tested positive since Nov. 27.

The home recorded its first case in a resident in late April. Archived reports online show that before Nov. 27, it had seen a total of 25 cases among residents all year.

Six residents had died of the virus as of Wednesday, including two since Nov. 27. Schaible said none of the deaths happened at the hospital, noting the facility is a skilled nursing home that follows residents’ requests about care.

In all, 160 people live at the veterans home and about 450 people, including full- and part-time viewers, work there. Staff members are being tested twice each week.

As of Wednesday, at total of 78 employees had tested positive for the virus all year.

The home also said it is moving residents who test positive for the virus to a dedicated isolation unit and then closely watching residents who live in the original units with the patient.

“We are continuing to update and enhance all of our risk mitigation efforts in light of the recent increase in cases at GRHV, including utilizing antigen point of care tests to more quickly identify asymptomatic individuals,” Anne Zerbe, executive director of Michigan Veteran Homes, said in a Thursday statement. “This virus is challenging both our resident members and staff in so many ways. It has taken our sense of security and our resident members’ ability to engage socially when seeing a friend or family member has never been more important. We are all longing for a return to more normal times. The one reassurance we can offer at this time is that the vaccine is on its way and skilled nursing facilities, like ours, are slated to be some of the first to receive it. We are working with our partners in the National Guard on the logistics of how we will administer it once it arrives. In the meantime we will remain vigilant in our fight against this virus and keep all of our partners informed regarding the activity at the Home.”

The veterans home is in the middle of a remodel. The upgraded facility will be a certified Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services. Residents will start moving in in the middle of 2021 and should be fully moved in by September.

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