Safeguards announced to protect Utah Veterans Homes residents

Based on recommendations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Avalon Healthcare and the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs will be increasing preventive protocols and procedures in place at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home, George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home, Mervyn Sharp Bennion Central Utah Veterans Home and Southern Utah Veterans Home.

To be clear, Avalon Healthcare and the UDVMA have not encountered anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. These are precautionary measures based on guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Utah COVID-19 Task Force.

Effective immediately, all Utah Veterans Homes will stop all medically unnecessary visits to members who reside at the state’s 24-hour skilled nursing facilities for veterans.

“The safety and well-being of our residents is always our top priority. Based on guidelines from government healthcare and infection control experts, we have made the difficult decision to no longer allow visitors at our Utah Veterans Homes located in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Payson and Ivins, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Gary Harter, executive director of UDVMA.

Utah Veterans Homes are also working to ensure alternative means of communication for people who would otherwise visit such as phone, email, text, video chat (e.g., Facetime, Skype), or via social media.

Homes may make some visitor allowances. In these instances, or in cases of questions, families should contact the homes, which are administered by Avalon Healthcare, directly.

In addition to these policies, Utah Veterans Homes have adopted protocols and procedures based on CMS guidelines designed to provide the safest environment possible to residents. These include the suspension of social and community gatherings, including church service, at all Utah Veterans Homes until further notice.

The safety and health of residents at Utah’s Veterans Home is UDVMA’s highest priority. The department will continue to work with its partners, coordinate with the Utah COVID-19 Task Force and continue to adjust protocols accordingly.

Avalon Healthcare plans to reopen Utah Veterans Homes to visitors as soon as practicable.

The Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs appreciates the understanding from Veterans and their families during this time. More information on efforts regarding Utah’s veteran and military communities will be shared as available.

State-wide information regarding the novel coronavirus can be found via the Utah COVID-19 Task Force website at https://coronavirus.utah.gov.
Twitter: @UtahCoronavirus
Facebook:@UtahCoronavirus

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