The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday announced a change to its visitation policy at the state’s four veterans homes as the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 were announced the same day.
“The new policy temporarily restricts routine visitations to those four facilities. Routine visits by non-employees, to include work conducted by volunteers, have been temporarily halted at the four homes,” the department said in a press release.
Currently, entry into the homes by anyone other than employees is restricted to medically-necessary visits by outside healthcare personnel and/or visits by family members to terminally ill residents in their final days, according to the statement.
All visitors to the homes will be carefully screened through written questionnaires and, if necessary, relevant physical examinations to ensure there is no risk of infecting residents, according to the department. Before implementing the policy change, ADVA first notified its residents, their family members, and employees.
“Given that residents of the homes are at a higher risk of both contracting the virus and suffering more severe symptoms upon infection, we are implementing the restricted visitation policy in the best interest of the residents’ health and well-being,” said ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis said in a statement. “This increased level of precaution has not been entered into lightly, and we will continue to communicate directly with our residents and families that may be negatively impacted by the restrictions.”
Davis said that the homes have the capability to assist residents with communicating with their family members through social media platforms and electronic communications such as Facebook, Facetime, and Skype.
ADVA manages four veterans homes in Alexander City, Bay Minette, Huntsville and Pell City with a population of more than 700 veterans.
Information about ADVA’s veterans homes visitation policy and other precautionary measures the department is taking in its response to the COVID-19 crisis is posted to the department’s website at www.va.alabama.gov.