MEXICO -- Missouri Veterans Homes are now accepting new applications after being shut down for over a year. 

All seven Missouri Veterans Homes were shutdown in March of 2020, and new veteran admissions were stopped in all homes that had positive COVID-19 cases. All visitors were also prohibited from entering the facilities.

The response to the pandemic in the homes resulted in an external review conducted by St. Louis law firm Armstrong Teasdale in October of 2020. 

The review found that the Missouri Veterans Commission failed to both acknowledge and react promptly to COVID-19 outbreaks within the long-term care facilities. The review resulted in the resignation of MVC chairman Tim Noonan and several immediate adjustments to the day-to-day operations of the homes.

"Our staff are our most valuable resource," Paul Kirchhoff, Executive Director of the Missouri Veterans Commission, said. "But, unfortunately, they are also the vector for bringing the virus into the facility."

All nurses and staff members are now tested daily, before entering the facility. Veterans are tested only periodically due to their isolation within the care facilities. Kirchhoff said the staff has also undergone extensive training and education on infection control. 

There have been no new cases of COVID-19 in any Missouri Veterans Homes since the end of January. The training combined with a nursing shortage prolonged the facility shut down through mid-April. 

There are 600 beds available in Veterans homes across the state, but Kirchhoff said they don't plan to fill all of the vacancies anytime soon. This is in part because the MVC wants to be able to keep an isolation area within each home. The MVC is also struggling to employ enough nurses to care for all veterans already in their facilities.

For more information on the application process, click here.

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