White River Junction VA leads in reintroducing VA health care services

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. – The White River Junction Veterans Administration Medical Center has been actively working on plans to reintroduce health care services, as Vermont and New Hampshire start moving forward after some COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. The facility will begin reintroducing some face-to-face services Monday, June 1. Across the Veterans Health Administration, each Veterans Integrated Service Network selected facilities as lead sites to be the first to implement a phased approach to reintroducing health care services while ensuring a safe environment. White River Junction is selected as the lead site for the VA New England Healthcare System, which includes eight VA medical centers in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine.

“The safety and wellbeing of veterans and our staff is the utmost priority. As we consider and balance how to best provide comprehensive health care services to veterans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we will continuously evaluate and reevaluate our current status,” White River Junction VA Executive Director Dr. Brett Rusch explains. “The White River Junction VA Healthcare System will take into account guidance from various agencies including federal, state, and local government as we gradually and carefully reintroduce health care services. As a high reliability organization, safety is always paramount and it will drive our decision making.”

The White River Junction VA will carefully expand time-sensitive surgical cases as well as select specialty services based on clinical need of veteran patients. Primary care, mental health, and specialty services will continue full operations delivering care predominantly as virtual visits as we know these services have been a valuable link to our veterans during this challenging time.

It is important for veterans, stakeholders, and families to understand they must continue to call prior to coming on site unless it is a medical emergency. Visitor restrictions remain, walk-in appointments are discouraged, and pharmacy will continue to maximize mail-order prescriptions. For those who will come on site, you will be screened, there will be a reduced number of patients in waiting areas, additional signage to ensure safe social distancing, and everyone will be required to wear a face covering. These adjustments will remain in effect until further notice.

VA has developed a risk-based framework to prioritize non-urgent procedures, in addition to the urgent procedures currently being performed. Evaluation of factors such as patient health, staff safety, and resource considerations will guide expansions and scheduling decisions. Rigorous safety measures including employee and veteran COVID-19 screening, physical distancing, and appropriate personal protective attire such as face coverings and frequent disinfection of high-touch services will remain in place at all VA facilities.

As the pandemic evolves, VA facilities will too. For more information, visit www.whiteriver.va.gov.

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