VA aiming to relieve long-term care facilities in Big Bend from COVID-19

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 17:23:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is working to relieve the pressure from COVID-19 and help long-term care facilities rebound from the pandemic.

It's what the VA calls their fourth mission.

Thomas Wisnieski is director of the North Florida, South Georgia Veterans Healthcare System. He's leading the fourth mission for South Georgia and North Florida as they work to help veterans and hundreds more get through this crisis.

"Every day, it's the same battle," said Wisnieski.

Caring for veterans is their main mission, but in times of crisis they step in to help civilian nursing homes.

"We take the pressure off the healthcare system by keeping the numbers down," Wisnieski said.

Meaning the number of COVID-19 cases.

Teams of six have been deployed to at least 30 long-term care facilities across the state. They include a physician or advanced nurse practitioner, two registered nurses, two licensed practical nurses and ontherapist.

"There was one team out of Tallahassee that has been extremely effective with their response and education," said Wisnieski.

They're helping with staffing needs, training with personal protection equipment and infection control and working to stop the spread of coronavirus in these vulnerable facilities.

"I feel very proud, and I know that our staff feels very proud of our ability to go in and assist," Wisnieski said.

Wisnieski said he was not at liberty to discuss which facilities the Tallahassee team responded to.

The initial assignment for the fourth mission teams was until May 21, and was just extended to June 19.