Missouri Veterans Commission chairman responds to investigation into its COVID-19 efforts

Missouri Veterans Commission chairman responds to investigation into its COVID-19 efforts

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The chairman of the Missouri Veterans Commission responded to an independent investigation on its efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

“We are absolutely heartbroken. And we will do better. We have to do better,” said Tim Noonan, MVC chairman. “I think it’s a tough report. But it’s a fair report.”

Missouri Veteran’s Home in Cape Girardeau reported its first positive COVID-19 resident on July 19. As of December 4, 29 veterans at the home in Cape Girardeau have died from coronavirus.

“If you look at the data of March, April, May, June, July, and August, we did a very, very strong job of keeping the virus at bay,” said Noonan.

But according to Noonan, things took a turn quickly.

“We failed to interpret the data correctly when case rates started spiking in Cape in the first third of September,” he said.

Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis conducted an independent investigation to look into MVC’s response to the pandemic in Missouri veterans homes.

According to the law firm’s report, the commission failed to recognize the outbreak, failed to plan for an extensive outbreak, and failed to respond to the outbreak.

“The rate and pace at which the virus got hold inside Cape, it simply overwhelmed the plan that we had in place, And as was mentioned in the report, we didn’t have a contingency plan in place, which resulted in very, very well-intended caregivers being overwhelmed by a very, very complex and fast-moving healthcare situation,” said Noonan.

Noonan said he accepts their failures and will make a change.

“The only thing you can fix them is to own them, face into them, and start driving the recommendations that we received,” he said.

According to Noonan, MVC will continue testing aggressively, improve quarantine space options, and make sure veterans who test positive do not interact with those who do not have coronavirus. Those are just a few of the actions taken in response to the investigation.

“We care deeply about the veterans. We care deeply about the work that we do. It is absolutely heartbreaking what happened,” said Noonan. “We love these men and women in the homes and we’re gonna keep fighting and making the best decisions we can, and most importantly, we’re gonna ask for help.”

Noonan, a retired Marine, is grateful for the families of veterans who shared their experiences for the investigation.

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