Inspection says Danville VA failed to manage a COVID outbreak

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – A new report from the VA inspector general is out, and it said Danville’s VA failed to minimize the risk and manage the spread of a COVID outbreak.

The report was over 60 pages long. It highlights what went wrong, and what can be changed to make sure something like this never happens again.

In the fall of 2020, two nursing homes on the Danville VA campus had a COVID-19 outbreak. 11 people died, 239 patients and 92 staff members tested positive.

Accusations were sent to the VA inspector general. They claimed the facility wasn’t handling the outbreak properly.

The complaints said they weren’t observing infection control, like wearing PPA. It also claimed there was inconsistent testing, and residents, families, and staff weren’t told about positive test results.

The inspector general’s office said they decided to investigate because of the nature of those complaints, and the impact COVID has on vulnerable populations.

The investigation started in November 2020, and the report came out less than two weeks ago. It came to the conclusion that the facility failed to manage the outbreak.

Here’s what they found, both people living there and staff did not consistently wear PPE, before and after the outbreak. They also found facility leaders did not respond to a nursing home staff member’s reported cough and close contact exposure, or send that person home.

They learned through interview that another staff member had a cough on the morning of a holiday, and while at work they were told a close family member had tested positive and they were a close contact.

They report said there is conflicting information about what happened next. But the staff member said they remember being told ‘no’ when they asked for a COVID test. They were told to wear a face mask, and to keep working.

Steven Miller is a Public Affairs Writer for the VA Illiana Health Care System. He gave us a statement from the VA it said:

“VA Illiana Health Care System extends its deepest condolences to the families of Veterans who passed away from COVID-19, and our thoughts are with all Veterans and staff who have been impacted by this virus. When making health care decisions, VA Illiana Health Care System prioritizes the safety of our Veterans and staff. We deeply regret the circumstances that led to the OIG findings and are thankful for the OIG team’s recommendations that identified areas of improvement.  The VA OIG Report focuses on events that occurred in 2020. Since then, VA Illiana Health Care System implemented additional actions to address the concerns. We support the health care team at VA Illiana who care for our Veterans in the Community Living Centers and are committed to implementing all necessary measures to ensure that these or similar circumstances will not exist in the future at VA Illiana. Providing safe, quality care for positive patient outcomes remains our top priority.”

Steven Miller, Public Affairs Writer

The report ended with 15 recommendations for what the VA clinic can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

They include making sure there’s a plan in place to follow current CDC guidelines. Each recommendation has a deadline.

If you want to read the full report, you can find it here.

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