WTIP file photo

Administrator shares more information on situation at Silver Bay Veterans Home

The North Shore was saddened to hear the news on November 20 that COVID-19 has taken the lives of five residents at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay.

Last week, the veterans’ medical facility was hit hard by the new coronavirus. WTIP spoke with Veterans Home Administrator Daren Rife, who said 17 staff members and 25 residents have had positive test results.

There are currently 66 residents at the Silver Bay facility. The veterans care center is divided into “neighborhoods,” and Rife told WTIP that the positive cases have primarily been in the wings that care for dementia patients.

Rife said the positive test spread seems to have slowed in the resident population this week and he is hopeful that will continue. He said, “We are doing everything we can at this point to prevent any further deaths, I can assure you.”

The veterans home has about 183 staff members and at this time there are no problems with staffing. Rife expressed appreciation to the many staff members who have stepped up to take extra shifts and/or to help out in other areas.

Rife also said workers from other care centers affiliated with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs have come to assist and that will continue if needed. An official news release from the Minnesota VA can be seen here.
In the news release, Douglas Hughes, Deputy Commissioner – Veterans Healthcare at MDVA said, “We were prepared for this situation and are taking all necessary precautions to keep residents and staff safe. The bottom line is that, at any time and without warning, the virus can affect any facility rapidly. This is being played out across the state and around the country. We can handle it, we always do.”

Measures to stop the spread of the virus include:

• A special isolation unit for residents who test positive for COVID-19
• Staff continue to wear the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) which protects both residents and healthcare workers
• Screen all staff for illness at the beginning of their shift and continue to screen residents twice a day
• Any staff showing symptoms are required to leave the facility and should be tested right away.

In his conversation with WTIP, Administrator Rife also expressed thanks to the North Shore community. He said he can feel the support and the love for the veterans and the staff.

In related news, WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Cook County Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager about the status of COVID-19 in the region and what to prepare for this Thanksgiving with regard to the ongoing pandemic. Listen to that interview here.

Here’s WTIP’s Rhonda Silence with Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay Administrator Daren Rife.