TO OUR VETERANS, PLEASE STAY SAFE DURING THIS TIME. BELOW ARE RESOURCES THAT YOU MAY NEED AS WE FACE THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK IN THE UNITED STATES. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL WHEN ALL OF THIS IS OVER. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!
Alachua County Veterans Services
218 SE 24th Street
Gainesville, FL 32641
Clay County Veterans Services Office
PO Box 1366, 477 Houston Street, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Vets Helping Vets
2730 East Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala, FL 34478
Union County Veterans Services
15 NE First Street, Lake Butler, FL 32054
Putnam County Veterans Services
2509 Crill Ave # 800, Palatka, FL 32177
VA Medical Facilities in Florida Taking Additional Precautions for COVID-19
MARCH 17, 2020
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
PETERSBURG, Fla. – The VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8) is taking additional steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 to protect healthcare system’s capabilities, healthcare workers and veterans. Facilities within the VISN 8 Network include the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinics, Miami VA Healthcare System, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Orlando VA Healthcare System, VA Caribbean Healthcare System, and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
These actions include:
VISN 8 facilities are transitioning to virtual appointments to the fullest extent to allow veterans to stay at home, avoid exposure to others and reduce their risk; Veterans with appointments will be contacted several days beforehand to discuss virtual appointment options available to them.
Veterans can help with this transition by visiting the VA Video On-Demand webpage for more information: https://mobile.va.gov/content/getting-started-0.
Veterans enrolled for care within VISN 8 can continue to use the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center for 24/7 virtual urgent care by calling 1-877-741-3400 (toll free) or by using the VA Health Chat App. Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of Coronavirus, flu or cold should contact the center first before coming to a VA facility.
VISN 8 facilities will cease non-urgent elective procedures. Any impacted veterans will be contacted directly by their health care team to reschedule. Urgent and emergent elective procedures will continue during this period.
VISN 8 facilities are further restricting visitations. Only one visitor will be permitted per veteran if required to provide assistance moving a patient to and from an appointment, providing support to an inpatient in a palliative or hospice care unit, or for veterans who have major procedures. Visitors who screen positive will not be granted access to the medical centers.
These newly announced actions do not supersede or replace activities announced by VISN 8 last week. All VISN 8 facilities continue to use mandatory and enhanced screening protocols for all patients, employees and visitors, have restricted visitations to certain units, and have taken many other actions to mitigate the infection and spread of the virus. For facility-specific status updates, please visit the appropriate healthcare system website (linked above).
All VA Vet Centers in Florida, which provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to veterans and families, are open and implementing enhanced screening protocols. At this time, veterans may appear in person or opt in advance for an optional phone consultation.
Currently, all U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries are open for burial and visitation by the public. Florida has nine National Cemeteries. To schedule a burial, please call 800-535-1117, option 1. In light of concerns regarding COVID-19, some families may prefer to proceed with direct interment of their loved ones and postpone the formal committal services to a later date. In light of concerns regarding the community spread of COVID-19, we are strongly urging that all committal services adhere to the CDC guidelines to avoid groups of more than 10 people. Additionally, volunteer and military honor guard availability may be limited based on local conditions. We recommend you contact cemeteries directly to gain an understanding of the completeness of the committal service in this very fluid situation. Cemetery administrators will work to accommodate these preferences. In addition, cemetery personnel will be discouraged from handshaking and any unnecessary physical contact to minimize the potential transmission of germs and viruses until the pandemic conditions are under control.
All Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Offices will be closed to the public starting March 19. The St. Petersburg Regional Office will remain open, but will no longer accept walk-ins for claims assistance, scheduled appointments, counseling and other in-person services. Veterans can continue to get information about benefits or file a claim for benefits by visiting our website at www.va.gov. Veterans with claims specific or other questions may request information via Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) or telephone at 1-800-827-1000. VBA benefits and services provided to veterans, families, and survivors will continue to be delivered throughout the duration of COVID-19 impacts.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) has suspended Travel Boards until May 1, 2020, due to COVID-19 response efforts. As of March 23, 2020, the Board is suspending all video, travel board, and VA Central Office hearings through at least May 1, 2020.
To contact a VA Homeless Veteran Coordinator in Florida, call toll free 1-800-827-1000.
U.S. COVID-19 testing capacity is rapidly increasing. When VA identifies patients, who meet the CDC criteria for COVID-19 risk and symptoms, we coordinate that testing with Departments of Health, VA Public Health Laboratory in Palo Alto, CA and commercial labs in Florida/South Georgia and the Caribbean. Learn more about what CDC says about symptoms and testing at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.
Everyone must help slow the spread of this disease by practicing social distancing. Actions include:
Plan home entertainment that limits contact with others.
Avoid public gatherings such as movies, concerts, and church or community meetings when possible.
Shop at non-peak times. Take advantage of curb-side pick-up or home deliveries, if available.
Avoid public transportation or travel unless essential; travel during off-peak times.
Stay home if you are sick, unless seeking medical treatment.
Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw way immediately.
Clean your hands frequently.
Clean hard surfaces with disinfectant.
Stay six feet from others when possible.
VISN 8 understands these actions may be inconvenient to some; however, these critical measures will help protect those who trust VA for their care and the employees that provide that care.
VA Public Health – www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/index.asp
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
Florida Department of Health – www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/covid19-toolkit.html
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs – www.FloridaVets.org