Thursday, April 9, 2020

Families protest as veterans nursing home emptied for virus

ATLANTA (AP) — With her husband's Veterans Affairs nursing home closed to visitors to guard against the coronavirus, Linda McCall hadn't seen him for weeks but at least took comfort that he was nearby in suburban Atlanta.
Now, 78-year-old Ralph McCall has been moved to a facility two hours away, and she’s fuming.
“It’s like my husband is property, or a piece of meat, and we don’t have a say,” said Linda McCall, a Roswell resident. “Whoever made this decision in Washington, they don’t care about my husband at all.”
McCall and other veterans' families said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs gave them insufficient notice of the decision to move dozens of residents from the Atlanta nursing home and worry they won't receive adequate care in their new facilities.
The agency said the veterans, many with multiple medical conditions, will be safer in other VA locations less affected by the coronavirus than the Eagles' Nest community living center adjoining the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur. The agency is also trying to clear out space in the facility in case the adjacent hospital needs it for a surge of COVID-19 patients, spokesman Gregory Kendall said.
The transfers were interrupted when one of the nursing home residents tested positive for COVID-19, Kendall wrote Tuesday in an email to The Associated Press. The ill patient was removed and is being cared for separately, Kendall said, and the transfers to facilities elsewhere in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina have resumed. He said patients previously transferred were tested just before being moved.

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