By MOAA Staff
Twenty VA facilities in 19 states began offering “select health care services” May 18 – procedures and appointments that had been discontinued as part of the department’s COVID-19 response.
Veterans seeking care at the following sites should contact their provider or the facility to find out which services will be offered:
- Arkansas: Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (HCS)
- Arizona: VA Southern Arizona HCS
- Florida: West Palm Beach VA Medical Center (VAMC)
- Idaho: Boise VAMC
- Missouri: Kansas City VAMC
- Montana: Fort Harrison VAMC
- Nevada: VA Southern Nevada HCS
- New York: Syracuse VAMC
- North Dakota: Fargo HCS
- Ohio: Louis Stokes Cleveland VAMC
- Pennsylvania: Erie VAMC
- South Carolina: Ralph H. Johnson VAMC
- Tennessee: James H. Quillen VA HCS
- Texas: South Texas VA HCS
- Vermont: White River Junction VAMC
- Virginia: Salem VA HCS
- Washington: Puget Sound VAMC
- West Virginia: Hershel “Woody” Williams VAMC
- Wisconsin: Tomah VAMC; William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Madison VAMC
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All safety measures for patients and employees will remain in place at the facilities, according to a VA press release announcing the changes. The department plans to use these 20 sites to lead “a phased approach to reintroducing select health care services while ensuring a safe environment,” per the release.
The majority of the facilities still have patients being treated for COVID-19; Military Times provided this breakdown shortly after VA’s announcement.
“The safety of Veterans and staff is the highest priority when we consider how we provide health care services and procedures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the release. “VA will take into account guidance from various agencies including federal, state and local government as we gradually expand health care services.”
VA maintains systemwide COVID-19 statistics, as well as breakdowns by state and facility, here. There were 1,925 active cases (including patients, staff, and other categories) and 1,066 deaths (including 710 inpatient deaths) as of May 19.
Additionally, the VA continues to work with TriWest and OptumServe contractors to assess the availability of private sector providers and their ability to safely deliver care to veterans in the community. Though the VA did not halt community care during the pandemic and continued rolling out network expansions required in the MISSION Act, community providers around the country reduced in-person health care appointments and increased telehealth care services when conditions warranted.
Like VA medical centers, the department will be working closely over the coming weeks and months to let community providers know what VA policies and procedures are for resuming medical services to assure necessary wrap-around care is available to veterans when and where they need it. VA is planning to increase its communication with veterans to help them understand local guidance and what to expect when receiving care in the VA or in the community setting in terms of screening, mask usage, physical distancing and other safety precautions.
It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re in the know and your military benefits are protected.