MDVA is continuing to work closely with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, Minnesota Departments of Health and Human Services, Nursing Home advocacy groups, and the Ombudsman Office for the latest information and guidance regarding COVID-19.
Our priority is to protect the health and safety of Minnesota Veterans, including the Residents in our five Minnesota Veterans Homes, and our employees. All Minnesota State Veterans Homes have implemented strategies to:
The Minnesota Veterans Homes’ (MVH) skilled nursing facilities and Domiciliary Program have both administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine including boosters. We are required to report the vaccination status of our staff and Residents to CMS and CDC and the USDVA. Through education and resources, we continue to support and encourage all staff, Residents and visitors to become COVID vaccinated.
The Minnesota Veterans Homes (MVH) follow both CMS and the MN Department of Health’s COVID-19 testing requirements for long-term care facilities. All CMS-certified facilities across the country must comply with this requirement.
MVH Resident testing occurs when symptoms are present or when the facility is considered in an outbreak status (meaning one or more cases in a staff or Resident). Our nursing team continues to monitor all Residents at least daily for symptoms of COVID-19 or illness.
The staff of the Minnesota Veterans Homes have also been participating in routine COVID-19 testing at the facilities since September 2020. Frequency for testing is guided by the community transmission rates and current exposure of COVID-19 in a facility.
The safety and health of Minnesota Veterans Homes Residents and staff has guided our response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
In November 2021, CMS updated nursing home visitation guidance. Visitation is now allowed for all Residents at all times. CMS does continue to emphasize the importance of infection prevention practices and following the Core Principles of COVID-19 prevention.
Core Principles of COVID-19 Prevention:
The Veterans Homes allow indoor visitation at all times and for all Residents. Visitors who have a positive viral test for COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or currently meet the criteria for quarantine, should not enter the facility. The Veterans Homes will continue to screen all who enter the facility. Vaccination against COVID-19 is preferred, but not required.
Visits should be conducted in a manner that adheres to the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention and not increase risk to other Residents, staff, or other visitors in the building. Physical distancing of 6 feet or more must still be maintained during visitation, so the number of visitors in the building at one time may need to be limited. We may need to limit gatherings (e.g., parties, events) where large numbers of visitors are in the same space at the same time and physical distancing cannot be maintained.
All visitors are requested to wear face coverings at all times, and follow any facility-specific infection control protocols that may be in place due to the community transmission rates. In areas of low to moderate transmission, if the Resident and their visitor(s) are fully vaccinated and the Resident is not moderately or severely immunocompromised, they may choose not to wear face coverings or masks when in a private space (such as a private Resident room) and to have physical contact. If the facility is in an area of sustained to high transmission or Outbreak Status, Residents and visitors are asked to wear a mask at all times during the visit. Visitors should always wear face coverings or masks when around other Residents or Veterans Homes staff, regardless of vaccination status.
It is safer for visitors to NOT enter the facility during an outbreak investigation; however, visitors are still allowed. Visitors should be aware of the potential risk of visiting during an outbreak investigation (the visitor being exposed to COVID) and adhere to the core principles of infection prevention.
If Residents or their representative would like to have a visit during an outbreak investigation, education will be provided regarding infection prevention protocols that may be recommended, all in the party should at least wear face coverings or masks and may be asked to wear the same PPE as staff during the entire course of the visit, regardless of vaccination status. Visits should ideally occur in the Resident’s room or a private space. Residents with a roommate will need to allow staff to arrange a suitable plan so the visit is in a private area.
Residents who are admitted or return from a leave or pass may be required to quarantine based on their vaccination, exposure and clinical health status. The Residents may admit to a different unit than they will reside in later during their stay. This will be reviewed by the care team and the Resident and Resident representative.
Each Minnesota Veterans Home has its own processes for visitation and admissions. Please contact the specific Home and talk to the care team for more details.