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Puget Sound VA medical center reopening services

Ensuring safe environment

Veterans should contact the American Lake VA medical center for information about the expansion of services. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie announced the department will begin to reintroduce healthcare services in select VA facilities May 18 including in the Puget Sound, as states reopen from COVID-19 shutdowns.

Each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) has selected Lead Sites to be the first to implement a phased approach to reintroducing select healthcare services while ensuring a safe environment. The lessons learned from these initial sites will help to inform how other facilities plan for expanding services in their facilities.

Lead Sites introducing select services include the Puget Sound VAMC. The next closest is the Boise VAMC in Idaho.

Veterans should contact their VA medical facility or provider for information about the expansion of services at any of these sites.

"The safety of veterans and staff is the highest priority when we consider how we provide healthcare services and procedures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "VA will take into account guidance from various agencies including federal, state and local government as we gradually expand healthcare services."

As a high reliability organization, safety is always paramount and will continue to guide our decision making. VA facilities may not be the first to reopen a full spectrum of care but in reintroducing services, VISNs and VA medical centers will consider unique circumstances of their state and local markets, environmental safety preparedness and clinical risk assessments.

VA has developed a risk-based framework to prioritize non-urgent procedures in addition to the urgent procedures currently being performed. Evaluation of such factors as patient health, staff safety and resource considerations will guide expansion, scheduling decisions and which services VA will reintroduce. VA will continue to track capacity needs for in-patient beds and other resources.

Rigorous safety measures including employee and veteran COVID-19 screening, physical distancing and appropriate personal protective attire such as face coverings, will remain in place at all facilities. Additionally, VA will continue to maximize the personalized virtual care options of telehealth, phone consults and wellness checks, as these services have been a valuable link to veterans during this challenging time.

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