Post 4278 Blog

What can go into our blog post?

  1. Helpful,veteran-specific content that gives readers a useful takeaway.
  2. Stories about helping Veterans in our community.
  3. Stories about Veterans being helped county wide.
  4. Updates pertaining to VA Healthcare.


6 thoughts on “Post 4278 Blog”

  1. Important VA Portland Pharmacy information about prescription refill requests in response to COVID-19…

    All Veterans may request changing their formulary, maintenance medications from 30 day fills to 90 day fills:
    1.Call the VISN Call Center at 1-503-220-8262 option 1
    2.Use My HealtheVet and choosing “Ask a Pharmacist”.

    All patient requests for days’ supply changes will be sent to the patient’s VA provider.

    VA Pharmacy cannot send patients 90 day fills of controlled substances, supply items and certain high risk medications.

    Pharmacy will not fill more than 90 days’ supply of maintenance medications per one time request.

    Patients are always encouraged to use the mail for additional refills of their medications. Veteran’s may request prescriptions using Audiocare at 1-888-400-8387 or requesting them through My HealtheVet.

  2. VA Portland Health Care System is continuing to offer Mental Health services with non-face-to-face care. Please reach out if you need assistance during this time:
    For new Mental Health appointments, call 503-220-8262, ext. 56409
    For existing patients, call 503-273-5058, choose the clinic where you receive care.
    If you are in crisis, please reach out to the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-9255 and press 1. You may also present to the VA or nearest Emergency Department in your area.
    Taking good care of ourselves is especially important right now, please review the following recommendations:
    Maintaining and Enhancing Your Mental Health and Well-Being During the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
    Adapted from
    Taking care of your well-being, including your mental health, is essential during this time. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Many people may experience stress, fear, anxiety, or feelings of depression. This is normal. There are things that you can do to manage your stress and anxiety:
    Exercise regularly, try to eat well-balanced meals, and get plenty of sleep.
    Limit alcohol.
    Practice breathing exercises and/or meditation. VA has many free mental health apps for Veterans.
    Take breaks from the news (see below for tips).
    Stay connected with others while practicing social distancing (see below for tips).
    Participate in activities or hobbies that you enjoy, or learn a new one.
    Keep your current mental health appointments. VA offers both video and phone telemental health options that do not require you to go to your closest facility in-person should you have a medical concern or need to follow specific social distancing guidelines in your community.
    Learn ways to connect with VA providers using telehealth options and schedule or reschedule your appointment online. If you are requesting a new mental health appointment, please call the VA Portland Health Care System and we will work to arrange an appointment for you. If you need same day access for mental health services, call the VA Portland Health Care System to request this and you will be connected to care.
    Also, see these great resources on managing stress and anxiety related to COVID-19:
    Moving Forward
    National Center for PTSD Guidance on Managing Stress
    CDC Guidance on COVID19 Mental Health Support
    Avoid Too Much Exposure to News
    Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. If you feel anxious or stressed from the information, struggle to turn off the TV or log off of social media, or have trouble sleeping, you might want to limit the amount and type of news you are viewing. Try to do enjoyable activities, return to normal life as much as possible, and check for updates between breaks.
    Stay Connected
    During times of social distancing, it is normal to have increased feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, or anxiety. It is important for everyone to stay connected. Here are some ways to feel more connected:
    Seek support from family, friends, mentors, clergy, and those who are in similar circumstances. While face-to-face communication may be difficult, be flexible and creative using phone, email, text messaging, and video calls. Sign up or join a virtual social network that includes service members and Veterans.
    Keep in touch with fellow Veterans and assist them in navigating this new environment if they are having a hard time. Teach them how to use VA Video Connect through the VA mobile app store as VA increases virtual health and mental health appointment availability.
    As a Veteran, you have been uniquely trained in emergency response situations. Your resilience and strength can assist others during these times. Connection can also happen when you give back to your community by sharing your expertise and support with family, friends, and neighbors through acts of kindness and volunteer opportunities which will arise.

  3. Public Information Officer, Washington Emergency Management Division AGENCY

    The Extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order will be through May 31, Gov. Inslee & Health officials announced today. There will be new allowances for retail curbside pickup; car washes; and landscaping. Also, drive-in spiritual services can go forward with one household per vehicle.
    Moving forward, there will be four phases allowing more areas of the state to re-open after each phase based on a data-driven approach. Information on that here:
    These phases depend on continued success in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and meeting four capabilities including:
    ✔️health care system readiness
    ✔️testing capacity
    ✔️ability to do contact investigations
    ✔️ability to protect high-risk populations.
    Not every part of the state is experiencing #COVID19 the same way. County variances are allowed. Smaller counties could reopen. Counties with fewer than 50,000 residents not hit hard by #COVID19 will be able to apply to the Department of Health for a variance that will allow the county to open to the second phase. Cities and counties can also take more strict actions than what the state is mandating. That is up to them based on their public health needs and local decision making.
    While state parks and state land are re-opening May 5, before traveling, check with your destination. More information:
    Businesses are also expected to implement any additional requirements developed specifically for their industry such as those that have been established for construction.
    The state is entering into Phase 1, with some aspects starting on May 5. More details will be announced on Monday. The governor has already allowed some construction to resume as well as reopening of some recreational activities including day use at state parks, playing golf, fishing and hunting. Officials are working with industries to develop new protocols that could soon also allow for retail curbside pickup; car washes; and landscaping and drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle.
    When COVID-19 disease burden is low and decreasing and the four capabilities described above are met, the governor will move from Phase 1 to Phase 2.
    ▶️ Phase 2: Additional expansions of outdoor recreation activities would be allowed, as well as small gatherings of 5 or fewer people, new construction and in-store retail purchases with health restrictions. Barber shops and salons could reopen and house cleaning services. Restaurants could reopen with 50 percent capacity and table size no larger than 5. Some professional services and offices could open up as well, even though teleworking would remain strongly encouraged. Pet care services including grooming could resume.
    ▶️ Phase 3: Gatherings of 50 people or less, including sports activities, would be allowed, and non-essential travel could resume. Restaurants could move up to 75 percent capacity and tables up to 10 people, and bars at 25 percent capacity; gyms and movie theaters could reopen at 50 percebt capacity; retail, libraries, museums and government buildings could reopen. Recreational facilities like pools could open at 50 percent capacity. Nightclubs and entertainment venues would still not be able to reopen.
    ▶️ Phase 4: Would involve resuming the majority of public interactions. Gatherings of more than 50 people would be allowed, but still while practicing social distancing.
    A larger version of the chart, which is also screen reader compliant, can be found at:
    Watch the full press conference here:

  4. VA national cemeteries to commemorate Memorial Day
    They will be open for public visitation
    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced today it will commemorate Memorial Day this year with solemn wreath laying ceremonies.

    Another offering is a new online memorial feature allowing the public to pay tribute to Veterans interred in VA national cemeteries across the country.

    “This year, by necessity, will be different from past Memorial Day observances,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “While the department can’t hold large public ceremonies, VA will still honor Veterans and service members with the solemn dignity and respect they have earned through their service and sacrifice.”

    Each VA national cemetery will conduct a brief wreath laying ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. In keeping with CDC guidelines to limit large gatherings, the ceremonies will not be open to the public.

    Secretary Wilkie will preside over the wreath laying at Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia on Memorial Day. Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Pamela Powers will do the same at Culpeper National Cemetery in Virginia, while Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves will lay a wreath at Riverside National Cemetery in California Friday, May 22, and at Calverton National Cemetery in New York on Memorial Day. Live streaming, recorded video and photographs from these and other ceremonies will be shared on NCA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

    Other public events typically associated with Memorial Day at national cemeteries, including group placement of flags at gravesites, will not take place. However, all VA national cemeteries will be open Memorial Day weekend from dawn to dusk for public visitation.

    Cemetery visitors are asked to adhere to health and safety guidelines and maintain physical distancing while visiting. Visitors are also urged to consider visiting Friday, Saturday or Sunday to avoid possible crowds on Memorial Day. Families may continue the tradition of placing flowers and small American flags at their Veteran’s gravesite.

    VA will also be launching a new way for the public to pay tributes to Veterans at the Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM). The site, originally launched in 2019, contains a memorial page for each Veteran and service member interred in a VA national cemetery. Starting Thursday, May 14, VLM will permit online visitors to leave a comment of tribute on a Veteran’s page, introducing a new way to observe Memorial Day. The tribute allows visitors to voice memories and appreciation for a Veteran’s service. All comments will be reviewed for appropriateness prior to being posted.

    As it has in years past, VA is again partnering with Carry The Load this Memorial Day to honor select “Veterans of the Day” with remembrances on social media from May 11-25.

  5. From the Director of the Portland Health Care System
    To ensure our Veterans are informed on the latest happenings within VA Portland Health Care System, please read this update from the Director. It has important information on a recent cluster of COVID-19 positive cases we are seeing in the Portland VA Medical Center right now. Thank you.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020
    Greetings my fellow Veterans:

    First, I want to thank each Veteran who has sought care during this crisis. You have been patient, cooperative with masking guidelines and been so willing to try new modes of care like video connect on smart phones.

    I also want to give everyone an update on a recent cluster of COVID-19 positive cases we are seeing in the Portland VA Medical Center right now.

    The bottom line is we are still serving our Veterans with world class healthcare in a safe environment. Our doors are not closed, and we continue to see Veterans face to face each day for critical issues and we continue to provide services to all seeking care using either telephone care or one of our many telehealth modalities.

    We are currently experiencing a cluster of COVID -19 Positive case on our Portland Campus. As of May 13, 2020, we have a total of 31 cases associated with this cluster. The people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are all associated with the Portland campus. At this point, the cluster appears to be limited to two inpatient wards involving the following:

    o 6 patients

    o 24 VA staff

    o 1 medical trainee

    Under the guidance of our experienced Infection Prevention & Control team and our, we are doing everything we can to understand this situation and to work proactively through it using universal epidemic management principles to ensure the safety of our Veterans and employees. We continue to follow the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and The Department of Veterans Affairs and we work in close partnership with our local health authorities and The Oregon Health & Science University.

    The overall impact to VAPORHCS’s ability to provide patient care is minimal; however, as a precaution, we are not currently accepting ambulances to the emergency department or accepting inpatient transfers from outside facilities until the situation is well understood. Our Emergency Room is open for Veterans who need emergent care, we are just deferring ambulances. In addition, options to increase outpatient procedures will be placed on hold until the situation is resolved, and we can ensure the safety of all our patients, visitors, and staff.

    We are continuing limited outpatient care and continue many virtual care options for all our Veterans.


    On April 29, 2020, a Veteran was transferred from a community hospital to VAPORHCS for non-COVID-related care. Prior to admission, the Veteran was non-symptomatic for COVID-19 and tested negative. The Veteran was retested on arrival and on May 1, 2020, the Veteran’s COVID-19 test result came back positive. The Veteran was immediately place on enhanced precautions and transferred to the hospital COVID-19 unit. All contacts (both staff and other Veterans) were traced and tested accordingly; all identified exposed employees were considered low or moderate risk based on universal masking practices.

    On May 4, 2020, a second inpatient Veteran who previously tested negative for COVID-19 with no concerning symptoms, was retested for a procedure and returned with a positive result. On that same day, VAPORHCS was notified that an employee had fallen ill and was being admitted to a community hospital with confirmed COVID-19. This employee had worked in the area of one of the patients during the previous week. The employee is currently home recovering.

    What we are doing now on the involved units:

    o Most staff and other personnel who are known to have had contact with the involved patients have been tested. We are working to re-test certain staff as appropriate and test others identified thru the contact tracing process. Over 500 tests have been run on Veterans and employees and we continue to test at regular intervals.

    o A thorough review was conducted of safety precautions and operational procedures related to the use of personal protection equipment (PPE), patient flow, staff rotations, & patient care. As a result, we immediately;

    expanded requirements for using masks, eye protection, and hospital provided scrubs;
    re-emphasized of social distancing protocols;
    started regular temperature checks of staff in certain patient-care work areas.
    o Impacted areas are being deep cleaned and treated with UV irradiation equipment.

    Other actions taken or continued:

    o All Veterans, visitors and staff entering VA Portland facilities will continue to be required to wear a cloth face covering or a procedure mask during all times while in any area of the hospital or CBOCs.

    Our clinical leadership team met with both the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on May 8th a consultation on managing this cluster. They recommended much of what were have been doing including focusing on hand hygiene and social distancing, wearing eye protection for all healthcare workers and they supported our proposed approach to implementing enhanced precautions N95/eye protection/ gown /gloves for all patient care for the next week until the situation is better controlled in impacted areas.
    They also endorsed our aggressive approach of concentric, widespread testing focusing first on directly impacted staff and circling out with re-testing asymptomatic high-risk staff and Veteran inpatients every 3-5 days within the 14-day incubation period.

    What Now: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so we need to strengthen some of our practices that have already been implemented. We will test and monitor as we reassess the situation as we learn and move forward.

    Relatively speaking, we have had limited cases of positive COVID-19 Veterans in our health care system but, sadly, we have lost three Veterans.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2020
    Greetings my fellow Veterans:

    To begin, I want to give everyone an update on our cluster of COVID-19 positive cases on the Portland Campus.

    – Now, more than a week on, we have a total 34 cases (27 staff; 7 Veterans); we have added 3 additional staff members since my last update.
    – The people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are all associated with the Portland campus.
    – We are not currently accepting ambulances to the emergency department or accepting inpatient transfers from outside facilities until the situation is well understood.
    – Our emergency room is open for Veterans who need emergent care, we are just deferring ambulances.
    – We are still requiring masking for all Veterans, visitors and staff entering VA Portland facilities and we have stepped up employee testing for our inpatient areas.

    The situation seems to be stabilizing and our mitigation efforts are paying off. More to come in the coming days and weeks. Hopefully this cluster is behind us as we continue to rethink how to provide world class health care to our Veteran heroes in these uncertain times.

    We at VA Portland Health Care System are committed to meeting all your health and wellness needs during this unprecedented time. We know this has been particularly challenging over the past two months and are eager to begin offering you more options for your care as soon as we can safely do so.

    Our clinical leaders have been planning how best to expand face-to-face care offerings at each of our locations while continuing to protect our vulnerable Veteran population and our health care workers. These plans are guided by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Veterans Health Administration, and local health authorities. The COVID-19 situation remains unpredictable, however, so we will have to be flexible. I pledge to keep you updated at each step along this journey.

    Measures in place now to keep you safe:

    We continue to prioritize in-person appointments for those most in need and to use video or phone appointments where possible; talk to your provider if you have any questions about face-to-face care options.
    Our staff are cleaning exam rooms thoroughly between every visit.
    Waiting rooms and common areas have been arranged to encourage physical distancing and are being disinfected multiple times a day.
    A “Masks On” policy is in place for all patients and staff at all VAPORHCS facilities; you can bring your own mask, or we will provide one when you arrive.
    Visitor restrictions remain at all VAPORHCS facilities; we ask that you come alone to face-to-face appointments or bring one healthy person over the age of 18 if you require assistance.

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