An employee at one of the state’s veterans homes has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the state Department of Veterans Affairs announced this morning.
“The staff member, employed at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City, was not allowed to enter the home after exhibiting a slightly elevated temperature upon reporting to the home’s screening station at the entrance to the facility on March 26,” the department stated in a news release. “In addition, the employee was referred for further testing by an external facility, which determined that the employee was positive for the virus. “
The department stated the staffer had not been in the Nichols home since March 23.
“The home’s health care provider, Health Management Resources, said the employee is doing well and should make a full recovery,” the department stated. “All persons that may have been in contact with the employee have been notified and are being appropriately monitored.”
Additionally, a patient at a Forestdale nursing home has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement from Cherryhill Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.
The patient is receiving medical care, and the center is notifying all residents, family members and staff.
The center, at 1250 Jeff Germany Parkway, has been enforcing CDC restrictions on visitation and had implemented infection controls, according to the press release.
Besides the Nichols facility, Alabama has three other veterans homes – one in Pell City, another in Huntsville and another in Bay Minette. Together, the four homes house nearly 700 veterans, most of whom range in age from 70 to 99 years old.
According to the World Health Organizaton, those over 60 years of age “are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease.”
More than 900 Health Management Resources employees work at the four veterans homes. About 200 work at the Nichols home, which has 150 residents.
Before the Nichols home employee’s positive COVID-19 test, the veterans homes had restricted visits, allowing only those deemed “medically necessary … by outside healthcare personnel and/or visits by family members to terminally ill residents in their final days.” In addition, all “routine visits by non-employees” had been suspended.
In an earlier email, Assistant Veterans Affairs Commissioner Bob Horton said employees at the homes “are screened daily for fever and other symptoms related to the cold and flu when reporting for work.”
Alabama has a population of about 400,000 veterans.
Virginia MacDonald contributed to this report.