Nursing homes and assisted living centers across the nation and in Ardmore are adopting no visitor policies in response to the spread of COVID-19.


On Thursday, March 12, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement saying all VA nursing homes have adopted a no visitor policy until further notice. Exceptions will be made on a case by case basis and the VA is implementing a screening protocol for anyone who visits or works at a VA facility.


“We apologize for any inconvenience. Our Veterans’ safety is our number one priority,” the statement read.


The Ardmore Veterans Center confirmed Friday that it will adhere to this policy. Several Ardmore nursing homes and assisted living centers also confirmed that they will no longer be allowing visitors until further notice.


These include Elmbrook Home, Woodview Home, Canoe Brook, Lakeland Manor, Whispering Oaks and Southbrook Healthcare Facility.


As of Friday, March 13, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases at any VA facilities or Ardmore nursing homes. The no visitor policies serve as a precautionary measure for the elderly population, which is at a much higher risk of getting very sick from the illness.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is extremely important for older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease to take action to reduce their risk of getting sick with the disease.


Public health officials have recommended community actions to reduce individuals’ risk of being exposed to COVID-19 to slow the spread and reduce the impact of the disease.


Infections are a major cause of hospitalization and death in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living centers. According to the CDC, as many as 380,000 people die from infections in these facilities every year.


According to an analysis by Kaiser Health News and shared by The Associated Press, government inspection records show nursing homes have frequently failed to ensure that all workers follow basic infection prevention protocols.


In the past four years, government inspectors have reportedly cited nursing homes for violating rules to prevent and control infections more than any other kind of deficiency, with one in five being cited multiple times.


In Carter County, 83.3% of the six nursing homes in the analysis were cited in at least one infection-control inspection in the last three years.


Southbrook Healthcare was the only nursing home not cited, according to AP. In the county, one had infection-control inspections comparable to a nursing home in Washington State which was recently heavily impacted by the virus.


The Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington became an epicenter for the COVID-19 virus after 18 people from the same facility reportedly died from the illness.


According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should not visit a VA medical facility. Individuals are encouraged to call beforehand. The Ardmore VA Clinic can be reached at 580-222-0400.


The Oklahoma Department of Health is also asking that individuals not go to the emergency room unless it’s essential.


Any individual who develops symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, or has been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19, should contact their health care provider or the COVID-19 hotline at 877-215-8336.