The VA never closed its doors as COVID-19 spread across the country, but it did change some of its operations - including certain restrictions - to ensure veterans' safety. The VA has now released a three-phase plan to gradually go back to its regular operations.
The plan will be gradual and the situation on the ground will determine when each step is implemented. This means each VA office may have a different timeline.
Generally however, the VA stated that "VA medical facilities will be permitted to embark on Phase 1 of the plan once certain local conditions have been met. These conditions include:
- Falling numbers of patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms,
- Reduced numbers of people testing positive for the virus, and
- Increased testing capacity.
Once these and other conditions are met, local VA facilities will maintain their current risk-mitigation activities (such as continued telework when possible) but may also begin assessing how best to permit elective procedures and resume certain face-to-face visits that have been postponed.
Phase 2 of the plan is the resumption of services that have been postponed, again as deemed possible based on local conditions, and subject to safety protocols deemed as necessary by local staff.
In Phase 3, VA facilities will again allow visitors to hospitals, community living centers, senior living facilities, and spinal cords injury and disorder units after a full assessment of the risks and only amid continuing improvement in their part of the country. Most VA employees will also return to work in this phase."
To read more about this development, read the VA announcement here.