May 28 Statement Regarding Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 at SLC Veterans Home

On Thursday, May 28 at 11 a.m., Avalon Health Care confirmed that William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home has had a total of 41 residents test positive for the virus.

The Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs issued the following statement from executive director Gary Harter in regards to confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home.

“As part of our department’s work, the state owns four Veterans Homes. The Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs contracts with a third-party healthcare provider, Avalon Health Care, to operate and manage the four facilities, which are located in Ogden, Salt Lake City, Payson and Ivins.

On May 18, 2020, the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs was first notified of a COVID-19-positive patient at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home. That same day, the Utah Department of Health and Utah National Guard arrived to test all employees and residents. After this initial testing, five additional residents and three staff tested positive for COVID-19.

The number of residents testing positive increased throughout the week.  All COVID-19 positive residents were transferred to the VA Medical Center.

On Tuesday, May 26, the Utah Department of Health and Utah National Guard conducted a second facility-wide round of testing for residents and employees.  On Wednesday, May 27, we received these results. As of May 27, a cumulative total of 41 residents and 17 Avalon Health Care employees tested positive for COVID-19.

 Avalon is engaged with us, the VA, and the Utah Department of Health for a plan moving forward. 

At this time, we do not know how COVID-19 entered the facility. The first positive case was a resident who exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. The initial employees who tested positive were asymptomatic. At the time of testing, including both rounds of testing, 25 residents and 15 employees were asymptomatic. Avalon Health Care is working to understand how COVID came into the facility and how it has spread quickly.

To the families, the care and health of your loved one is our top priority. Our department is dedicated, Avalon and its employees are committed, and we are all doing everything we can to protect residents and staff.” 

As of the morning of May 28, of the 41 COVID-19 positive residents, 22 are currently receiving care at the VA hospital, two were transferred to another nursing facility, and 17 are receiving care at the facility.

The home has been following the guidance and directives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Salt Lake County Department of Health and the Utah Department of Health regarding COVID-19 and infection control and prevention. This includes no visitors to the facility since March 12.

All Avalon Health Care staff members are screened before entering the facility and are sent home if they report any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or other illness in accordance with CDC guidelines. 

At this time, there are no COVID-19 positive residents at Utah’s other three Veterans homes, the George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home, Mervyn Sharp Bennion Central Utah Veterans Home and the Southern Utah Veterans Home. All three of those facilities’ employees and residents will be tested as part of the state’s effort to test long-term care facilities. 

For additional updates and information from Avalon Health Care, please visit avalonhealthcare.com/slveterans/.

For media inquiries, contact Kelsey Price at kelseyprice@utah.gov or (385) 377-0402.

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