The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced they will ramp up telehealth and telemental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion of these services comes with the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) — a $2.2 trillion relief package designed to alleviate some of the impact of the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill allocated $19.6 billion in additional funding to VA to fight the pandemic.
Bolstering telehealth capabilities through increased telework and call center capabilities will enable VA to continue to deliver health care and mental health services while also mitigating the risk of virus transmission. VA is also authorized to enter into agreements with telecommunications companies in order to provide broadband services for veterans so they can receive telemental health care.
“VA has a world-class medical team doing incredible work on the frontlines of this fight,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a news release of VA’s plan to improve access to care for veterans and meet the expected surge in infected patients. “We will continue to share best practices and lessons learned with other government agencies and the private health-care system as appropriate so we can defeat COVID-19 as a nation.”
Veterans and their families are urged to take precautions to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. Those exhibiting symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath should call their VA medical center before going to a clinic to limit risk of exposure.
To do your part in flattening the curve in the COVID-19 pandemic, VA and the CDC released these advised precautions:
Practice social distancing
Get a flu shot
Keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid people who are sick
Stay home and away from others when sick
Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues or your arm/sleeve. Dispose of tissues in the trash.
Keep surfaces clean using disinfecting wipes
Check the CDC advisories prior to planning travel.
For the latest VA updates on coronavirus and common-sense tips on preventing the spread of disease, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.
Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.