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New Covid Rules at VA Medical Facilities


Last updated 7/5/2022 at 2:40pm | View PDF

The Department of Veterans Affairs has just instituted a three-tier safety program to keep veterans, visitors and staff safe from COVID at medical facilities.

Starting in May the Veterans Health Administration COVID-19 Health Protection Levels program, aligning with the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions health care setting data, will determine on a weekly basis just what needs to be done before you can access care at a VA medical facility.

At mine, for example, it's at Level High. That means the full menu of options comes into play: masks, social distancing (stay 6 feet from others), probable screening at the door, approved visitors only and video options encouraged for appointments instead of needing to go in.

At a Level Medium, it means masks, your care partner can come in but no other visitors, self-screen for COVID symptoms before you go and social distancing not required.

At a Level Low, visitors are probably fine (staff approved) if you're hospitalized, self-screen for COVID symptoms before you go and social distancing not required.

And yet there were other facilities I checked across the country where there were no health protection levels whatsoever, typically at VA in-network community partners like civilian optometrists. You'll need to call them individually to find out their protection levels. Oddly enough, in some locations across the country, facilities within mere miles of each other can range from low to medium to high.

Each week on Mondays the CDC rules will be updated on the facility listing with any changes and signs posted at doors. They'll also update on website and social media and telephone voicemails.

The new guidance covers not just coming in the door, but waiting rooms, group therapy, staffing, visitors ... everything.

If you're about to head out to a VA health facility, check to see their level so you'll know what to expect, even if you can guess based on the COVID cases in your home area:

(c) 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.


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