Union Grove veterans home makes changes after 12 vets, 11 staff test positive for virus

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is now closely monitoring an outbreak at a veterans home in Union Grove. As of Thursday, Aug. 6, 12 veterans and 11 staff members at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19 -- with seven employees still out and waiting on test results.

The DVA said the outbreak might just have been inevitable. The veterans home, made up of a handful of buildings, presents communal living in a confined space for veterans -- many of whom are older and battling other health issues.

"We've been pretty fortunate to keep this at bay as long as we have," Diane Lynch, with the DVA, said. "I think we were all hopeful that it would not happen, but I think we're also realistic in that it perhaps might have just been a matter of time."

For the past five months, the facility has limited activities and provided masks to everyone -- changes that had kept the space virus-free.

Now, the state VA is taking restrictions a step further. New members will quarantine in their rooms for 14 days, and the home will limit interactions with staff, provide additional testing and more.

"We are discontinuing window visits at this time and not having any visitors on campus in an effort to minimize the risk of this spreading any further," said Lynch.

Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove

Lynch oversees the veterans home and said her department will ask for the Wisconsin National Guard's help in testing every veteran and staff member again in two weeks. 

"We value our staff and the contributions they make to taking care of our nation's heroes, and they're absolutely committed to taking care of them now," said Lynch.

The effort is being taken to ensure that those who served -- and those now serving them -- receive the care that they need.

For context, roughly 200 employees currently take care of 153 residents at the Union Grove veterans home. That means around 7% of the veterans and 5% of the employees have tested positive.