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Thomson-Hood residents die of COVID-19

At least five of the 83 residents of Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore who contracted COVID-19 have died from the virus.

As of Tuesday, 49 residents and 32 staff members had active cases.

That information is from the kycovid19.ky.gov website.

The website also listed 10 deaths of Thomson-Hood residents, but Jessamine County Public Health Director Randy Gooch said Tuesday he could only confirm five deaths.

For the past several days, the executive branch has not allowed anyone from Thomson-Hood or the Department of Veterans Affairs to talk with the media about the situation.

Gov. Andy Beshear, during his daily press conference last Wednesday afternoon, announced two veterans’ deaths among seven who had died in one day in the state.

“They were at the Lexington VA,” Beshear said. “Those are now the second and third veterans in our nursing homes who we have lost. It’s another reason to make sure we’re doing everything we can to stop the spread of this virus.”

Dean Stoops, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, told The Journal on Monday, Oct. 12, that as of late the night before, there were 30 active cases of coronavirus at the veterans nursing home, and 12 had been transferred to the federal Veterans Affairs hospital in Lexington. At the time, Stoops said, none were in intensive care or on ventilators. Two days later, however, two of the residents were dead. Less than a week later, that number had climbed to 10 according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ COVID information website.

Mark Bowman, executive director of Thomson-Hood, said a few days before the interview with Stoops that with COVID-19, a patients’ condition can decline rapidly.

“It’s just so different in so many different individuals, and that’s the scary part of it,” he said.

Bowman said he had talked with other veterans home directors who told him patients can quickly go from having mild symptoms to being very sick, and there have been cases where people were very sick and recovered quickly.

Generally, though, the elderly and those with other health conditions are most vulnerable to serious illness or death because of the virus.

On Oct. 12, Stoops said that patients at Thomson-Hood who have tested positive but aren’t sick are being isolated in a “red zone” at the nursing home, and those at the Lexington VA hospital are also isolated.

The isolation unit of the nursing home also has separate staff, and additional staff were brought in from the state veterans center in Hazard to help with testing.

According to Bowman, prior to Oct. 2, there were three employees of the veterans home who had tested positive for the virus. Then on Oct. 2, two employees tested positive, and the home started getting positive test results from residents in the part of the home where those two worked, although it had not yet been shown through contact tracing whether those two were the source of the outbreak.

“We may never know,” he said.

According to Bowman, the first patient to test positive was Sept. 10. The first employees to test positive were on Sept. 12, 23 and 29, and all of the others have been on or since Oct. 2.

Bowman said the staff at Thomson-Hood was doing more cleaning and whatever it could to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“We’re using a consistent staff, and we’re sealing off and making sure that there’s a separate entrance for the employees that are going in and out, and that there’s no cross traffic to other units,” he said.

Since that interview, Bowman has not been allowed to talk with the news media, and he referred all inquiries to the public information staff at the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, The Journal learned, however, that the state had clamped down on any interviews with department personnel as well as nursing home officials.

“All information from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs is going to be covered in the governor’s briefings, and there is nothing else we can say,” Lisa Aug, a spokesperson for the KDVA said.

The newspaper also could not reach anyone in public affairs with Lexington’s VA hospital.

If family members or anyone closely connected with COVID-19 patients from Thomson-Hood would like to talk with The Jessamine Journal about the situation at the veterans home, they may call (859) 759-0015 or email randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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