Skip to content

Year of the Plague – 17 – Colorado National Guard Called Into the Colorado State Veterans Home in Aurora – Flag Ship of the State Veterans Nursing Homes – After 2 Residents Die, 7 Residents and 7 Staff Test Positive for COVID-10

April 30, 2020

Colorado National Guard setting up at the Colorado State Veterans Home at Fitzsimons, in Aurora, Colorado

______________________________________

Update on May 7, 2020: Now up to six deaths at “Fitz”: 5 on the Heritage Wing, and one on what is referred to as “Eagle-Right.” The virus has also spread to the Patriot Wing. Only one wing of the facility, Constitution is Coronavirus-positive free. A bit of good news: a 103 year-old female veteran tested positive but has no symptoms!

______________________________________

2 residents of Aurora Veterans Home die, 14 others at positive for COVID-19 

______________________________________

What is happening at the Colorado State Veterans’ Home – the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic there is a part of something far more extensive. A week ago, last time I could find info there were 85 out of 272 nursing homes (or there abouts) in Colorado that were reporting COVID-19 positive tests. According to this article in a week, the number of infected facilities has jumped to 149!! that is almost 55% of all nursing home and long-term care facilities in the state.

______________________________________

(postscript – the day after. Good news – none of the staff tested positive. Bad news – three more residents died today (Friday, May 1, 2020), and two wings are in isolation – Eagle and Heritage – the Alzheimer’s unit”)

Of course it’s good to see them – the Colorado National Guard setting up camp outside of the Colorado State Veterans Home at Fitzsimons… even if it’s terribly late in the game, their presence is welcomed.

Still “too little too late” – that seems to be the “on the ground” response to the Coronavirus pandemic hitting Colorado state institutions – its nursing home, long term care facilities, its prisons and its meat packing industry.

How much pain could have been averted, how many lives saved for earlier, more aggressive interventions, better personal protection equipment, earlier testing and with a Stay-At-Home policy with teeth?

Finally hitting the mainstream news… although the word had been getting out anecdotally for three weeks, maybe longer; terrified staff eating lunch in cars to minimize contacts, late improvement of PPE’s, chaos in the Alzheimer’s Ward, inept facility management, several CNA’s infected and all along the state of Colorado in the know. 

If an outsider like myself was aware that something was amiss, certainly the powers that be were in the know as well… and could have done something about it earlier, but as is the national tradition, they were late off the mark in responding.

And now, an even bigger mess.

Keep in mind that the headline below is a little deceiving… these are the stats prior to the COVID-19 test results coming in… 2 dead, 7 staff and 7 residents with the virus…

Contacted the media as soon as the warning signs began to appear. What’s fact? What’s rumor? Couldn’t tell but there was enough smoke coming from Fitz to know that the fire was there too. Here’s a story for you, a tip, mainstream media! Run with it. Nada. Again.

But now that the infections are well along, it hits the news.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tweeted his concern for the veterans on Tuesday evening… a rather hollow statement that does not suggest that Aurora has any plans to address the pandemic at “Fitz” concretely. But then Coffman has long been a master of calming statements that have no teeth – brilliant sound bites that mean nothing. Looking at the record of his recent statements on the pandemic he makes it clear that from the outset he was against social distancing as is the current Republican mantra.

And keep in mind that as of yesterday, Aurora, with its burgeoning immigrant, working class, Black and LatinoX populations has just surpassed Denver as having the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state. What are you doing about it Mike Coffman besides expressing your sympathies? Not much.

What is happening at the Colorado State Veterans’ Home – the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic there is a part of something far more extensive. A week ago, last time I could find info there were 85 out of 272 nursing homes (or there abouts) in Colorado that were reporting COVID-19 positive tests. According to this article in a week, the number of infected facilities has jumped to 149!! that is almost 55% of all nursing home and long-term care facilities in the state.

Not surprised… problem is systematic includes – low wage and poorly trained staff many of the forced to work, two, three jobs to make ends meet, revolving door of an impressively incompetent management, a Human Services division that at least with Hickenlooper was governor, was one of the worst run in the state – incompetents starting starting with Hickenlooper’s choice to head up Human Services and a state legislature which has choked the facility for funds – and all state facilities – so as to then to point the finger as to how inefficient is the system – a prelude to privatization (which I argue is just around the corner). And finally a form Democratic Colorado governor, Bill Ritter, who caved to the states’s Republican Party and business community and vetoed a bill which would have given the statewide employees union, ColoradoWINS, collective bargaining rights.

Am not close enough to the situation to know if the change in governors has lead to any substantial changes, improvements at Human Services, but Governor Polis has dropped the ball on the states’ nursing homes in this pandemic, as well as on the prisons and meat packing plants and his announcement of lifting the Stay At Home order seems dangerously pre-mature from where I am sitting.

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    April 30, 2020 2:05 pm

    The hardest hit in Colorado has been the nursing homes. The homes should have been sequestered with the staff. The staff should not have been allowed to leave and go home until after the curve went down. The staff would have to be guaranteed good medical equipment, good pay, separate quarantined housing with all meals provided and a extremely generous salary. The fact that this didn’t happen is the failure of Capitalism. So we have two enemies, a predatory virus that just does what viruses do and predatory Capitalists that also do what capitalists do. The only solution, it to bury Capitalism in a pauper’s grave.

  2. Anne permalink
    April 30, 2020 3:56 pm

    Good to know you’re following this. As part of my current job I go in and out of nursing homes constantly to see patients. We implemented a policy at the start of the month that every visit we had to go in with head to toe PPE because when we did our pre-visit screenings they would flat out lie to us that they didn’t have Covid. I went into one facility at the beginning of this month that swore up and down they didn’t have it, found out when I got there they had seven cases. That facility did not appear on the CDPHE list until this past week. Fitz has had Covid there since early April. Now Fitz is saying they can get more staff in there, they have never had access to staff to begin with! Where are they going to find staff? Or PPE! I remember back in the day we were wrapping ourselves in sheets and towels for things like Noro and C-diff. Shame on them.

    • April 30, 2020 4:52 pm

      Thanks for this – even if it is somber news… Not really surprised.. Best wishes to you. Rob P

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: