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VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System still serving veterans during pandemic

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Posted at 2:20 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 17:20:20-04

In response to COVID-19, the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System (VASNHS) continues to find ways to safely deliver care and services to more than 84,000 enrolled Veterans while adhering to social distancing and stay at home directives.

While the facility has canceled elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures, and moved scheduled appointments to virtual care wherever possible, Veterans oftentimes still have questions, issues or medical concerns that cannot wait. As such, VASNHS is delivering same-day services virtually to enrolled Veterans who have urgent primary care or mental health needs.

Prior to changing operations in response to COVID-19, Veterans with urgent primary care needs had the option to call or visit the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center, their primary care clinic or VASNHS’ Women’s Health Center directly for same-day services. However, this practice has been temporarily suspended.

“We want to be able to continue providing Veterans with same-day access to primary care but want to ensure we are doing it in a safe manner,” said Dr. Maia D. Carter, VASNHS’ chief of Primary Care. “As such, we ask that patients reach out to our call center at 702-791-9024 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday-Friday to request a same-day appointment to discuss their urgent need. They will be referred to a nurse to assess their medical concerns, then, if a patient needs to be seen, we will offer them virtual care through VA Video Connect [mobile.va.gov] or by telephone as appropriate.”

For mental health, if a Veteran has an urgent need, he or she can access virtual same-day services from a health care professional by calling the medical center’s Behavioral Health Clinic at 702-791-9062 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

“If a patient calls and expresses a need that we would typically handle as a walk-in visit for same-day services, we will offer them a virtual care or phone appointment with a registered nurse,” said Tim Jobin, VASNHS’ associate chief of staff of Behavioral Health. “The nurse will assess the Veteran’s needs and assist with medication refills, scheduling any necessary video or phone appointments and completing any consults for immediate care or follow-on services.”

Access to same-day services doesn’t replace emergency care and Veterans should always call 911 or report to the closest emergency room during a medical emergency. Additionally, if a Veteran is in crisis outside regular business hours, he or she should visit the nearest emergency room or contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (Option 1) OR Text 838255; OR confidential chat: www.veteranscrisisline.net.

Due to COVID-19, Veterans who have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath should contact the VA immediately before visiting one of our VA facilities. Veterans can contact the call center at 702-791-9024 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday- Friday; or call the Nurse Advice Line at 702-791-9000 (option 3) or 877-252-4866, 24/7.

“These are unique times and COVID-19 continues to redefine how we deliver care and provide services,” said William J. Caron, director and chief executive officer for the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System. “We realize many of our Veterans count on the VA a lifeline, particularly when dealing with stressful events such as this. Our hope to return to normal operations as quickly as possible, but these temporary changes are necessary – both for the personal safety of our Veterans and staff, as well as to ensure we are focused and ready to respond and care for any Veteran patients affected by COVID-19.”

For more information on what Veterans need to know about COVID-19, please visit the VA's Frequently Asked Questions Page [lnks.gd].