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Coronavirus spreads to more staff, residents, at Veterans' Home

Daily Inter Lake | September 30, 2020 12:15 AM

The Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls is working to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected a total 17 staff members and residents, with nine of those cases being considered “active,” as of Tuesday morning.

Jon Ebelt, spokesperson for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, said of the 17 total cases, 13 are employees and four are residents. As for the nine active cases, seven are employees and two are residents.

The facility, which is certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Veterans Administration, announced its first positive cases on Sept. 23.

According to the Hungry Horse News, at that point one resident and two staff members had tested positive. The resident, who had to be hospitalized but was expected to make a full recovery, was isolated from others and the two employees were quarantined immediately.

Officials with the Veterans Home could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but Ebelt confirmed stringent COVID-19 prevention measures are still in place.

Staff at the facility are tested for coronavirus twice a week, on top of being screened for symptoms twice daily. In addition, outside visitors are not allowed to enter the building and all residents are tested on a weekly basis.

According to the state health department’s website, the veterans facility is equipped with 105 intermediate skilled-care beds, 12 domiciliary beds and a 15-bed Alzheimer’s disease unit. Most rooms are double occupancy, including bath and shower facilities.

The facility currently contains 93 residents and employs 170 full-time equivalent employees who staff three shifts.