13 Lebanon veterans recover from coronavirus

Coronavirus

16 people who either live or work at the home have tested positive for COVID-19

Edward C Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon. (Courtesy Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some good news has come out of a veterans’ home in Lebanon. Thirteen people who contracted the novel coronavirus at the home have reportedly recovered, according to an update from the Oregon Health Authority on Friday.

The Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home was first put on lockdown mid-March after eight residents tested positive for COVID-19. Visitors have been prohibited and only essential people are allowed in the building. As staff went through the process of testing everyone inside the facility–both residents and employees–more cases arose.

On Friday, the OHA said that 13 of the 16 cases connected to the home have recovered from the coronavirus.

Among those who fought off the virus was the home’s most senior resident: William “Bill” Lapschies, a World War II veteran who celebrated his 104th birthday this week. He had been isolated in his room since first showing symptoms on March 5. Since visitors are not allowed inside, on Wednesday Lapschies’ family surprised him outside the veterans’ home for a social distancing celebration.

William “Bill” Lapschies celebrates his 104th birthday outside the veterans’ home in Lebanon on April 1, 2020 (KOIN)

As of this week, “he has met the guidelines by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority to be considered recovered from COVID-19,” according to a spokesman for the VA on April 1.

“This is the good news so many of us have been hoping for throughout this difficult situation,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director, in a Friday statement. “Words cannot express our gratitude to the medical staff at the home who helped guide these recoveries, and who provided such exceptional care to our honored residents.”

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Operation Well Wish (Courtesy Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs)

During the lockdown, the veterans’ home has been on the receiving end of many acts of kindness. Late last month, veterans and volunteers with American Legion Post 10 helped organize turkey dinners for residents and staff. The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs also launched “Operation Well Wish” where citizens were encouraged to send letters, notes, and artwork to the veterans inside as a way to show their support. The call to action was an outstanding success–people from all over the state mailed in letters, and those farther away sent in video messages.

“While we celebrate this welcome good news, we recognize that we are not out of the woods yet,” Fitzpatrick said. “As long as this virus is out there, it remains our duty to do whatever we can to protect the honored residents in our care, and prevent the spread or reintroduction of this potentially deadly disease.”

Of the 16 people who tested positive for the virus, two have died. One case remains active, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The home’s staff continues to closely monitor the residents for any signs of COVID-19.

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