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Residents at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington are seen in these images recently posted on the facility's Facebook page. Many of the residents are using Facebook and Skype to keep in touch with family.

Vermont Veterans Home Hosts Vehicle Parade on Saturday

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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BENNINGTON, Vt. — Veterans are a familiar site at small-town parades, usually as marchers.
 
On Saturday at the Vermont Veterans Home, many local vets will be on the sidelines as the facility invites friends, family and members of the public to the home's first Vehicle Parade.
 
Participants are asked to report for a lineup in the back parking lot at 2 p.m. and to remain in their vehicles as they drive around the residential and health care campus, waving to and providing moral support for the residents inside.
 
"We've gotten tremendous feedback on the parade," said Melinda Crowl, the marketing and admissions coordinator for the home. "We've had people calling from three hours away asking, 'Is so-and-so going to be in the window?' There are a couple of groups of people who ride motorcycles who are going to be coming.
 
"I'm actually kind of shocked from the feedback we've gotten. People are really looking forward to it."
 
The Vermont Veterans Home, which has a capacity of 130 beds, has been closed to visitors since March 13.
 
Crowl said the staff has done what it can to keep up patients' morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
"We're doing hallway bingo, we just put up a hope Christmas tree today in red white and blue," she said. "Everyone is around putting up Christmas lights. The residents have been Facetiming with their families and Skyping. We're putting some of our residents up on Facebook so their family members can see them. Some are coloring rainbows to put in their windows. We've had special meals."
 
Crowl said the home purchased iPads to help some of the residents connect with family.
 
"We had Skype capabilities before, but a lot of people prefer Facetime," she said. "They're able to do it daily. I see them doing it two, three, four times a day."
 
Cowlin said the home has yet to see its first case of COVID-19. The three-week shut-down to visitors appears to have helped in that regard. But it is prepared for the possibility.
 
Crowl said the home has designated one of its units for respiratory cases "if the need arises."
 
"We had one case in there with the flu, just the regular flu," she said. "That was our test case. We kicked the flu's butt, so hopefully we will with coronavirus, too."
 
While events like Saturday's vehicle parade will help lift the spirits of residents in the home, it also will show support for the medical professionals who care for the veterans, spouses and Gold Star parents who are served by the Vermont Veterans Home.
 
"It is stressful, truthfully, for our staff here," Crowl said of the pandemic. "But they know where their priorities lie. A lot of them are happy to come in and do what they set out to do.
 
"Morale is not dwindling by any means. Everyone here knows what their responsibilities are, and we're happy to come in."

Tags: COVID-19,   vermont veterans home,   veterans services,   


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Regulators Give Centers for Living and Rehabilitation High Marks for Infection Prevention

BENNINGTON, Vt. — The Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, has earned deficiency-free status, the highest given, on a survey meant to determine ability to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other infections to those living, recovering, and working within long-term care facilities.

"CLR has always taken pride in its infection-prevention measures," said Suzanne Anair, the facility’s administrator. "When COVID-19 broke on the scene, our staff was ready to do what it took to protect patients, residents, and themselves. They have done a tremendous job."

On March 20, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare’s largest payer and most rigorous regulating body, declared that they would postpone normal survey activities in order to complete targeted infection-control surveys. According to the announcement, the purpose of the new surveys was to ensure "providers are implementing actions to protect the health and safety of individuals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic." CLR's infection-focused survey was on April 9, 2020.

Infection-control measures are particularly important within long-term care settings, where shared living spaces among the vulnerable elderly population have led to high rates of infection and death. 

CLR has cared for COVID patients and non-COVID patients throughout the pandemic. Leaders are proud to report that not a single known transmission of the virus has occurred at the facility.

"Considering that this is a contagious virus and our patients and residents are among the most vulnerable, we are grateful that we started to protect our building early by following CDC guidelines," said Dr. Jim Poole, CLR's medical director. "It is working."

One measure was restricting visitors to those providing medical care only.

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