Current Operating Status - VA Maine Healthcare System
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VA Maine Healthcare System

 

Current Operating Status

Situation Update

As of Tuesday, June 2, 2020 1:00 PM EDT

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Operational Update

June 2, 2020

VA Maine Health Care System operations are adapting due to the emergence of the COVID-19 virus in our community to maintain a healthy environment for our Veterans, family members, and staff. In an effort to confront emerging challenges related to COVID-19 transmission in our community, we are initiating emergency measures to prevent avoidable transmission of illness here within our medical center. 

As of June 2nd, 23 VA Maine Healthcare System Veterans tested positive for COVID-19. Eighteen of the positive Veterans are now recovered, two are on home isolation practicing self-care per CDC guidelines, one is an inpatient at the Togus campus, and one is an inpatient in a community hospital.  On April 2, 2020, one of the positive Veterans died at VA Maine Healthcare System’s Togus campus due to complications from COVID-19. 

Two VA Maine Healthcare system employees tested positive for COVID-19 and are now recovered.

Due to privacy concerns, we cannot provide additional information regarding these Veterans or VA Maine’s employee.

In order for VA Maine to provide continuity of care to our Veterans, we are asking for your assistance. If you are tested for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) at a community healthcare facility or are contacted by the Maine CDC, please communicate to them that you receive care through the VA Healthcare System.

Universal Masking

Beginning Monday, April 6th, universal masking will be instituted at all VA Maine sites of care.

  • Masking will be mandatory for everyone on our campuses.
  • Upon entry to facility access points, all persons will be instructed to hand sanitize with alcohol-based hand sanitizer and take one mask to be utilized for their day.
  • Staff will always maintain their mask, except for hydration/nutrition and/or in an office location by themselves.
  • Social distancing must always still be maintained.
  • Hand hygiene before and after touching outside of mask.

Elective Procedures

On March 13, 2020, the American College of Surgeons provided guidance to healthcare facility urging us to halt all elective hospital procedures. As part of these measures, we are rescheduling any non-urgent elective surgeries/procedures to keep our Veterans safe. Dental procedures that are not urgent or emergent will also be rescheduled. Veterans to whom this applies are being contacted. We will plan on rescheduling these procedures after August 1st, provided we are past this event. Please be assured that you may contact your clinical team should you have questions.  

Outpatient Care

As of March 30, 2020. VA Maine’s clinical access points in Bingham, Ft. Kent, and Houlton will be temporarily closed for the duration of our response to the COVID-19 national emergency. VA Maine will consolidate services, redeploy staff, and maintain operations in our larger CBOCs.

Also, effective March 30, 2020, all VA Maine outpatient services, including CBOCs, will operate by appointment only. We are working to reduce face-to-face outpatient clinical encounters to only those that are deemed time-sensitive and clinically necessary. These efforts are to ensure we maintain the safety of our Veterans.

With heightened concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and keeping in line with VHA’s guidance about postponing elective procedures and enhancing our capacity to provide virtual care, face-to-face outpatient visits for ALL clinical services, including Primary Care, Mental Health, and Specialty Care, will be assessed for conversion to virtual care. In order to accomplish this goal, clinical staff will review all scheduled appointments to determine if the appointment can be switched to a VA Video Connect (VVC) or telephone appointment. If the type of care is not appropriate for VVC or telephone (i.e., dental care or endoscopies), the provider should follow up with the Veteran to reschedule his/her appointments for no sooner than 60 days in the future of the cancellation date.

Upon calling Veterans to either switch clinically appropriate appointments to VVC or telephone or postpone the appointment, Veterans will be asked two follow up questions: (1) whether they need medication refills and (2) whether they have any needs that need to be addressed sooner than the VVC, telephone, or postponed appointment.

If a Veteran is at risk of imminent harm by not seeing a clinical provider face-to-face, then a face-to-face appointment will remain in place. In order to ensure that our urgent care clinics and emergency departments are not overwhelmed, it is critical that we ensure Veterans are still able to see their clinical providers for urgent needs.

External Triage Unit

Working with the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Maine Air National Guard erected a tent outside the Togus campus’ Emergency Department on March 18th. The serves as our External Triage Unit. More information available here.

Testing Locations

Drive-up, appointment only testing through Primary Care is available on the Togus campus. Due to limited test availability, testing is not currently available at the CBOCs. If/when testing kits become available, we plan to expand testing capabilities to the Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor CBOCs.

VA Maine Pharmacy Official Guidance for Prescription Refill Requests in Response to COVID-19

At this time, Pharmacy is switching to an all mail-order system in order to limit exposure to COVID-19.  Outpatient Pharmacy will ONLY honor emergent prescription needs for in-person pick up.  Emergent prescriptions include post-surgical, emergency department and discharge medication needs.  All other medications and supplies will be mailed.  Veterans may request refills and renewals by:

  • contacting the refill line at 207-623-5770
  • mailing in refill slips
  • Pharmacy Call Center at 1-207-623-8411 option 1
  • requesting them through My HealtheVet and choosing "Ask a Pharmacist"

Please allow 7-10 days for prescription delivery. Veterans may request expedited shipments and may request changing routine medications from 30 day fills to 90 day fills by:

  • Pharmacy Call Center at 1-207-623-8411 option 1
  • Using My HealtheVet Secure Messaging and select “Ask a Pharmacist” when composing a message .

VA Pharmacy cannot send patients 90 day fills of controlled substances, some supply items and certain high risk medications.  Pharmacy will not fill more than 90 days’ supply of maintenance medications or honor early refills.

Visitor restrictions are in effect at ALL VA Maine facilities

The following visitation safeguards are currently in place:

  • Visitors/guests are not allowed in any site of care.
  • Outpatients should come to VA appointments alone, if possible.
  • Veterans coming to the hospital or any clinic for healthcare/procedure can bring one adult family member/caregiver with them who is not sick.
  • No one under the age of 18 is permitted.
  • Visitors are not allowed to visit the Community Living Center (CLC) located on the Togus VA campus . Visitation is only granted to those who have a Veteran that is currently on hospice care at the CLC, if the visitor is trained to assist with care of the Veteran or is needing to be trained to assist with the Veteran’s upcoming discharge from the CLC. 
  • Entrances to the Togus VA Medical Center and Community Based Outpatient Clinics will be limited; staff are screening people for symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath before entry. 
  • Exceptions may be made for visitors of patients to include those who are in critical condition or in end-of-life situations. Additional policies restricting visitors may be put in place on certain specialty units or as conditions warrant. Visitors/guests can call to speak to inpatients by calling the operator at 207-623-8411, dial 0, and ask for the inpatient/Veteran by name to be transferred.
  • All patients and visitors are reminded to wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after visitation / appointment.

We encourage all patients to allow for extra time to get to appointments with the required screening. We appreciate all support and understanding as we plan, prepare and respond to this emerging public health concern.   We will initiate screenings for all who enter our medical center buildings and clinics. The screenings will help ensure we are protecting our population of hospitalized Veterans, the teams that care for them, and families of all involved. We fully recognize this will cause some inconveniences, but the safety of those we care for must be the priority.   Updated Authorized Entry Points and Hours of Operation:

  • Togus Campus: 
    • Veterans & visitors will enter through building 200 main entrance (Access: 24/7), building 207 gazebo side entrance (Access: 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.) & building 205 circular driveway (Access: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri.).        
    • Staff will enter through building 210 (Access: 5:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri.), building 207 gazebo side entrance (Access: 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.) & building 205 circular driveway (Access: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri.). Staff may use building 200 main entrance during Weekend, Holiday, Evening and Night hours.
    • Staff in standalone buildings will be screened upon arrival by supervisor.
  • Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs): Veterans, staff, and visitors will be screened upon entrance to the clinic.

Community Requests for VA Maine Assistance

President Trump declared a nationwide emergency pursuant to Sec. 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”) on March 13, 2020. This increases federal support to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its role as the lead federal agency for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response.

HHS remains the lead federal agency directing the federal response to COVID-19. HHS can request that VA provide resources to civilian health care systems or that VA hospital care and medical services be provided to non-Veteran patients in VA facilities, dependent upon the availability of resources and funding, and consistent with the VA mission to provide priority services to Veterans. VA cannot receive direct requests for assistance from the community, including state and local governments. The established central coordination function of HHS will ensure an integrated, effective response is provided to those communities that need assistance most.

If state government, local government, or community healthcare providers need to request VA Maine assistance with resources, they must contact Maine’s HHS REC: https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/responders/rec/Pages/default.aspx

We will continue to update our webpage, www.maine.va.gov , and our Facebook page, but we would also encourage you to sign up for our “E-mail Updates”. You can register your e-mail address on our homepage where it says, “CONNECT WITH VA MAINE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM”.

Here are a few things you can do to limit the impact of the inconvenience and help protect our hospitalized Veterans:

  • When you come to our campus, allow extra time for screenings and navigating to your appointments Wash your hands with soap and water multiple times a day or use Alcohol-based Hand cleaners.
  • Try to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread easily with contact.
  • Get your flu shot.
  • Check the CDC advisories prior to planning travel.

 
For additional information please contact:

Jonathan.Barczyk@va.gov (207) 623-8411 ext 2200
 
or

Michelle.Tancrede@va.gov (207) 623-8411 ext 2969

 

Facility Status

Parent Facility
VA Maine Healthcare System Normal Hours
Community Based Outpatient Clinics
Bangor Clinic Normal Hours
Calais Clinic Normal Hours
Caribou Clinic Normal Hours
Fort Kent Clinic Normal Hours
Houlton Clinic Normal Hours
Lewiston / Auburn Clinic Normal Hours
Lincoln Clinic Normal Hours
Mobile Medical Unit Normal Hours
Portland Clinic Normal Hours
Rumford Clinic Normal Hours
Saco Clinic Normal Hours

Telephone Numbers

  • Emergency: 911
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
  • 24 Hour Nurse: Monday-Friday
    7:30 am-4:30 pm
    1-877-421-8263 x7490
    Evenings, weekends
    and holidays

    1-877-421-8263 x7490 or 1-866-757-7503
  • Change Your Appointment: 207-623-8411 or
    1-877-421-8263, then press 9
  • Media Inquiries: 207-623-8411 x2200, VAMainePublicAffairs@va.gov
  • National Veterans Helpline: 1-800-507-4571
  • Patient Locator: 207-623-8411 or
    1-877-421-8263, then press 0
  • Pharmacy Refill: 207-623-8411 x5751 or
    1-877-421-8263 x5751
  • Staff Locator: Not Available
  • Telephone Care: Monday-Friday
    7:30 am-4:30 pm
    1-877-421-8263 x7490
    Evenings, weekends
    and holidays

    1-877-421-8263 x7490 or 1-866-757-7503

In the event that VA Maine Healthcare System or any of our associated Community VA Clinics is threatened by inclement weather, check this page for details.

Do you have a family disaster plan?

Now is the time to plan what you, your family, and your pets would do in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. Visit the Ready America* web site for information and instructions for creating a family disaster plan.