Many veterans rely on the Veterans Administration (VA) for healthcare. What is the VA doing during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic? Like many medical facilities across the country, they are taking steps to protect their patients and their staff. According to the VA’s Coronavirus FAQ, the Veterans Administration has activated its emergency management coordination cell and has started clinical screenings at all VA facilities.
- VA call centers and some VA health facilities are experiencing very high numbers of calls. To help them address the most urgent needs first, they ask that you use their online tools and frequently asked questions (FAQ) for routine or non-urgent questions.
- For routine appointments, the VA recommends using telehealth (phone or video) for your scheduled appointment. You can also cancel and reschedule your appointment for a later date.
- If you have a non-urgent elective procedure scheduled, the VA may contact you to cancel or reschedule for a later date. Note: Urgent and emergent procedures will continue as scheduled.
- VA health facilities have been testing Veterans who meet the testing criteria provided by the CDC.
How to protect yourself
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 infection and no medication to treat it. CDC believes symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. The VA recommends you avoid exposure and avoid exposing others to an infection with these simple steps.
- Learn to use VA Video Connect through the VA mobile app store or by contacting your VA care team, before any urgent problems arise.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to mark the time is to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick or becoming sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands) and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Getting a flu shot is recommended.
Veterans Administration COVID-19 Cases
As of Sunday, 22 March 2020, the Veterans Administration is tracking 160 veteran patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. This is a rapidly evolving situation and VA will provide updated information as it becomes available and verified. The Veterans Administration tracks the number of COVID-19 cases on their Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) web page.
What Is Coronavirus COVID-19?
The CDC defines COVID-19 as a new type of coronavirus (or “novel coronavirus”). COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses that are common in people and different animal species. On rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and then spread from person-to-person. This is how COVID-19 started. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?
If you have a fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, call your VA medical center before going to a clinic, urgent care, or emergency room. You can also send your doctor a secure message through My HealtheVet.
Contacting the VA first helps them protect you, medical staff, and other patients.
Can I be tested by the VA for COVID-19?
Testing is based on many factors, including the severity of symptoms, other existing illnesses or conditions, possible exposure, and other criteria. VA health facilities have been testing Veterans who meet the testing criteria provided by the CDC.
What should I do if I have an upcoming VA health appointment?
For routine appointments, the VA recommends using telehealth (phone or video) for your scheduled appointment. You can also cancel and reschedule your appointment for a later date.
If you have a non-urgent elective procedure scheduled, we may contact you to cancel or reschedule for a later date. Note: Urgent and emergent procedures will continue as scheduled.
To change your in-person appointment to a telehealth visit:
- Use Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet to send a message to your provider.
- Use the VA appointments tool to schedule a telehealth appointment online. (Available only for some types of health services.)
How do I reschedule or cancel my upcoming VA appointment?
Sign in to your VA.gov account to reschedule or cancel your appointments online.
Note: Some clinics are advising patients to not reschedule or schedule new appointments for some types of routine care, as they develop more guidance on safely providing care to protect patients and staff. Because this is a rapidly changing situation, the best way to get the most up-to-date facility information is to check your local VA health facility’s website. Find a VA location.
How do I know if my VA health facility is still open for regular appointments?
Because this is a rapidly changing situation, the best way to get the most up-to-date facility information is to check your local VA health facility’s website. Find a VA location.
Can I visit a patient at a VA facility?
At this time, the VA recommends that you postpone your visit to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Postponing your visit helps protect older Veterans and those who already have health issues.
Note: In order to protect the most vulnerable patients against community spread, the VA is currently not permitting outside visitors to see residents in nursing homes, and spinal cord injury and disorder centers, except for compassionate cases. “Compassionate case” means that the Veteran is in their last stage of life in a hospice unit. In compassionate cases, visitors will be limited to a specific Veteran’s room only.
Information on this page was provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Public Health web pages. Information was current as of Sunday, 22 March 2020. For the most current information, please visit the VA Public Health web page.