VA Puget Sound Health Care System
VA Puget Sound Director Letter to Veterans
Valued Veterans and families:
We understand that our community’s constantly evolving COVID-19 situation can be overwhelming, especially with all the information in the news. Please know VA Puget Sound Health Care System’s #1 priority is the health and well-being of you, the Veterans entrusted to us for care, and our staff who make that care possible. We continue to provide operational updates on our website https://www.pugetsound.va.gov/emergency/index.asp and encourage you to subscribe to get these updates by email.
Here are some important related topics we want to make sure you keep in mind:
Stay on Top of Your Health
It is important to note that most cases of COVID-19 are mild and can be managed at home. If you are over 60, have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, you are at higher risk. Be alert for any flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, please DO NOT go to one of our care sites or to the emergency room unless you need emergent services, instead contact your primary care team for guidance.
If you have any questions about symptoms you may be experiencing, an upcoming appointment, or want to convert a clinic appointment to a virtual one, call us at 1-800-329-8387 extension 71234, call your primary care team or use My HealtheVet to message to your team.
We are screening Veterans and visitors and expect to expand this to employees soon. Of those screened, we are testing those individuals with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for evaluation of COVID-19 infection. We’ve also been testing symptomatic employees (by appointment). We understand this causing extra time to be factored in when arriving, and we hope this site-specific guidance will help in your planning:
- Patient/visitor entrances: Radiation Oncology, Women’s Health, Building 100 main entrance, Building 101.
- South entrance closed to patients and visitors entering the building.
- Patient Shuttle is available from South Entrance (Building 1) to Main Entrance (Building 100) available every 5-10 minutes.
- Patients are being asked to park in the multi-level Veteran’s parking garage.
American Lake (Lakewood) Campus:
- Centralized, drive-thru screening during weekday began March 13.
- By appointments only service during weekends.
- Audiology Clinic cancelled on Saturdays.
Community Based Outpatient Clinics, Community Resource & Referral Center:
- No additional changes aside from general policies within this communication.
Clinic and Emergency Room Visits
While it is still safe for patients to receive care across all our care sites if you have an upcoming appointment for a routine checkup, wellness visit, or other non-urgent care needs, we recommend you convert it to telehealth to reduce your chance of exposing yourself, or others unnecessarily. We are currently reaching out to patients to convert appointments to phone or video connect as appropriate If you have not heard from us and want to reschedule or convert a clinic appointment to a virtual one, call us at 1-800-329-83887 extension 71234, call your primary care team or use My HealtheVet message to your team.
Postponement of elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures
From March 16 through April 15 (subject to change) we are cancelling elective surgeries in which a delay will not negatively impact a patient’s outcome. Patients’ whose elective surgeries are being impacted by this change will be contacted by the VA Puget Sound Team. They will be rescheduled as the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled. This action helps VA Puget Sound providers and facilities focus staff and resources on critical patient needs and COVID-19 efforts.
As of Friday, March 13, all VA Puget Sound care sites suspended general visitation. Guests and Veterans without appointments or valid medical needs will be restricted at all VA Puget Sound Health Care System care sites until COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our community.
If you have been advised by your care team to come in to be seen or you need to be seen in the emergency department, please come in.
We recognize there are times when having a family member or visitor present is crucial, therefore exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We also encourage family members and friends to use alternative ways to interact with their hospitalized loved ones, including phone calls, Facetime, Skype and other means.
More details about the new policy can be found here and we’ll continue to update you on VA policy changes.
Changes to Canteen & Support Services
To better protect patients and staff, we’ve made some changes to our Veteran Canteen Service (food, retail and coffee stands) and support services such as gym access:
- Veteran Canteen Services PatriotBrew Coffee Shop closed on the weekends.
- Self-serve food options discontinued.
American Lake (Lakewood) Campus:
- Gym is closed to avoid Veterans being exposed to crowds.
- Veteran Canteen Services (food and retail) closed on weekends.
We are in this together
During this time of uncertainty, we want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to provide the best care possible, while ensuring the safety of our Veterans, staff and visitors. Our continued priority is to protect you, your loved ones and our care team, and hope you remain safe and well.
Please take precautions. Wash your hands regularly; stay at home and away from large groups of people; and cover your cough. We care about you and our community and want to keep everyone safe.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
Michael Tadych, FACHE
Director of VA Puget Sound Health Care System