Manteno Veterans’ Home returns to normal | Coronavirus

MANTENO – The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and its veterans’ homes have focused on resuming normal operating aspects of facilities with updated protocols in 2021 after the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 created epidemics in some state facilities.

After a May 2020 outbreak at Manteno Veterans’ Home where 48 veterans and 33 staff tested positive for the virus and 15 veterans died from COVID-19, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General, the infection control continues to be essential for ease.

Four long-term skilled nursing facilities for eligible veterans in Anna, Quincy, Manteno and La Salle are operated under the IDVA, with another facility expected to open in Chicago. These facilities are licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health and certified by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 81 cases of COVID-19 among residents of the Manteno site, with 62 recoveries and 19 deaths, according to the latest public notification from Manteno Veterans’ Home administrator Tanya Smith, December 9.

Three employees and zero residents have developed COVID since December 2. There have been 115 cases and zero employee deaths from COVID since the start of the pandemic.

When the coronavirus was first reported in December 2019, the Manteno administration monitored it and began developing a preliminary plan that was used when cases were first identified locally in March 2020, Smith said.

Mitigation measures included limiting volunteers and visitors, requiring staff to work in specific areas and implementing social distancing during meals, said Anthony Vaughn, acting deputy director of IDVA.

“We are very fortunate in the arrangement of the Manteno house, which has separate buildings to which we can limit staff,” said Vaughn. “I like to say that we have taken a very conservative approach to visits and people entering and leaving the building.”

The outbreak in Manteno began around Mother’s Day 2020 when a resident was identified as positive for COVID.

“So the minute we found out about it, we immediately tested all residents and staff,” Smith said. “We have warned all our families. And we started whatever mitigation we could. “

The Manteno outbreak occurred before some of the state’s COVID warrants were instituted and the most serious outbreak at IDVA facilities at LaSalle Veterans’ Home in November 2020.

“There was never a time when we didn’t take this seriously,” Smith said. “I think what it did, you know, challenged us to find out more about how we could take better care of patients. It forces us to overcome our grief. I mean, it’s not just our patients. These residents have, many of them have lived here for a very long time.

After 36 veterans were declared dead from COVID at La Salle, Governor JB Pritzker asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate the operation of the facility. The IG report, released in April 2021, criticized the IDVA for the lack of a unified COVID-19 plan for the facilities, even after the Manteno outbreak, and communication failures between the management of IDVA and home administration.

IDVA director Linda Chapa LaVia resigned in January 2021 and the governor appointed Terry Prince, then director of Ohio Veterans Homes, as interim director effective April 1, 2021. To improve the department, Prince has created a six-point plan that included policy standardization. , restructure senior management and prioritize infection control.

“Like all veterans homes and nursing homes across the country, we learned a lot of lessons early on, and we’ve used that expertise and implemented it in all of our homes here,” said Prince.

New air pressure units have been added to the facilities, including two full negative pressure units, which trap indoor air and prevent it from flowing outside, at the Manteno house.

Nine veterans have died from COVID at facilities since there was access to the vaccine, according to IDVA.

“Our 105-year-old resident who lives here was one of our first cases during the pandemic and they have recovered,” Smith said.

In early January 2021, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that 40% of all staff at veterans’ homes had chosen to receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 74% of residents.

“The veterans were the first to line up, to raise their hands for the shot,” Prince said.

Eighteen percent of Manteno’s staff – the lowest percentage of the four facilities – were vaccinated at the time.

“The reluctance to get vaccinated was the same in our building as it was across the state,” Smith said. “And so it is a matter of education, reinforcement and education.”

In addition to providing written education and making leadership available publicly and privately on vaccine questions, Smith said the facility keeps the vaccine in stock. If an employee wants to be vaccinated and the house is out of stock, she said the administration makes a vaccination appointment elsewhere for that day and gives the worker paid time off to receive the vaccine. which is also applicable if he is suffering from side effects. .

“So we didn’t give them time to guess whether they wanted to be vaccinated,” she said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched a vaccine requirement for nursing home staff on October 26, when 82.7% of Manteno staff were fully vaccinated. In early December, IDVA reported that 100 percent of residents and 90 percent of staff are vaccinated in Manteno. IDVA is now the leader of state immunization agencies, Prince said.

“It has worked out slowly, certainly not at the pace we would have liked, but the end result is good and we are proud of it,” said Smith.

Boosters are also offered on-site as employees and residents become eligible.

The Manteno facility currently houses 171 veterans on its 122-acre campus, although it can accommodate 304 veterans. Its count was highest before COVID, Smith said, and fell to 144 in March 2021.

It currently employs 286 people, which corresponds to the hours of care required by the IDPH and the federal VA, according to the IDVA.

“It’s been the blessing for our facility, it’s the dedication of the staff to the residents,” said Smith.

The homes of the state’s ex-combatants are not immune to the “big resignation” of health workers, Prince said, but IDVA is working to recruit workers so they can fill more jobs. posts.

“We have to be careful about how many residents we admit at any given time and we do this based on a staffing model that shows how much we need to support to make sure the resident gets what they need.” , Prince said. “But also with the understanding that if we have residents who enter the COVID protocol, we literally have to remove a number of staff who would normally serve 10 to 15 residents, who could now serve as a resident for 10 to 14 days.” “

Life, visits and volunteering

With the limitations of security protocols, residents were encouraged to stay in their rooms.

“They got as frustrated as we often are,” Smith said. “They are used to a much more vibrant and active community within this house than they were able to have during the pandemic.”

Group activities within each residential unit continued, Smith said, and more craft activities were offered.

Visitors were restricted to Manteno’s home during the early stages of the coronavirus, so staff used iPads and iPhones for video tours, Smith said. Exterior visits were authorized in summer 2020, and therefore later interior visits were scheduled in spring 2021 with a limit of two people.

Following IDPH and CDC guidelines, Manteno is moving towards open tours, which still require guests to wear face coverings. Smith said the house receives stickers that visitors can wear to show they have been examined as they move around the house.

“They can have visitors in their rooms, they can also have visitors in common areas,” Smith said.

Letters written in support of Operation Rising Spirit and donations have continued to show the community is caring for Manteno veterans, Prince said, and he hopes further improvements to the facility show support from the IDVA.

“We are reviewing food contracts, we have a new roof underway and we are constantly improving to show our veterans and staff that we are committed to Manteno House and to the community,” Prince said. .

The Manteno Home is now bringing vaccinated volunteers back to units that work with a specific group of residents. Volunteers are tested regularly at the homes of veterans, Smith said.

It hosted outside visitors and volunteers on Wednesday for its first event, a blanket donation from an eighth-grader and an hour of coffee, since the start of the pandemic.

“We had to make sure we had enough space for social distancing, we offered testing to people, but that’s going to be the new normal,” Smith said.

Comments are closed.