CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – As healthcare facilities begin to resume some standard services put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has selected sites within each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) to lead the way. The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center was selected as the lead for the Southeast VISN, and began expanding some services on Monday.
Services being methodically reintroduced include “elective surgical cases, primary care, mental health, and select specialty services based on clinical need of veteran patients.” To minimize health risks, the VHA “has developed a risk-based framework to prioritize non-urgent procedures, in addition to the urgent procedures currently being performed.” Patient health, staff safety, and resource considerations are identified as key factors in guiding the path forward.
Additionally, the center will implement “rigorous safety measures” such as employee and patient screening, social distancing, frequent sanitizing of high-touch services, and providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center will advise facilities across the country on lessons learned and best practices as they begin to open up.
Acting Charleston VA Director, Ronnie Smith, said the “VA will take into account guidance from various agencies including federal, state and local government as we gradually reintroduce health care services. As a high reliability organization, safety is always paramount and will continue to guide our decision making.”
To ensure all patients still have access to care, options like telehealth will continue to be available and encouraged, as they have been “a valuable link to our Veterans during this challenging time.”