Veteran's home in Reserve loses 25 veterans in three weeks, but few were tested for virus
St. John The Baptist Parish - Since late March, nearly 39% of the residents at a south Louisiana assisted living facility have died.
The Advocate reports that a total of 25 veterans who lived at the Southeastern Louisiana Veteran's Home in Reserve passed away and only twelve of those deaths have officially been attributed to COVID-19.
Despite this, St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner Christy Montegut suspects that '12' is not a reliable reflection of the virus's impact on the facility.
Many of the home's residents were not tested for the virus before or after their deaths.
Now, Montegut is awaiting confirmation from three posthumous test results to see if those three veterans also suffered from coronavirus-related complications.
The facility is run by the state Department of Veterans Affairs, where representatives admit that coronavirus may be the cause of more than 12 of the home's recent deaths.
While Montegut suspects that many of the undiagnosed were infected, he also says that at least some of the deceased died from other non-coronavirus causes.
At least several of the residents who passed away were cremated or entombed without ever being tested, and this means we may never know how many of the facility's recently deceased were victims of the pandemic.
It’s not clear when the home first began testing residents for the virus. Montegut said he was told that outside testing was suspended shortly after it was initiated due to a shortage of test kits.
Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Brandee Patrick said agency staffers “consistently follow medical advice from each veteran’s treating physician and the coroner in whether or not COVID-19 testing is warranted in a particular case."
“As we have throughout this public health emergency," Patrick said, "we continue to test in-house or send out for testing, depending on physician’s recommendations, and are following all updated CDC health protocols in treating symptoms our residents exhibit.”
It remains to be seen if the coronavirus’s outbreak in the home is over.
While the facility reported no deaths Thursday, Montegut noted there had been two deaths from COVID-19 there on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday.
“Hopefully we’re starting to see a decline, but you never know,” Montegut said.
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