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Florida veterans health centers moving to virtual appointments to combat coronavirus

The goal is to allow veterans to stay home and avoid exposure.
New rules for patients and visitors are in place for veterans' health centers including the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center campus. [Times (2014)]

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Local veterans seeking medical care may find themselves redirected to virtual appointments in the coming days.

In an ongoing effort to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus, the Veterans Affairs Sunshine Healthcare Network, which oversees all veteran health centers in Florida, is transitioning to virtual appointments whenever possible. This includes the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Pinellas and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.

The goal is to allow veterans to stay home and avoid exposure, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Non-urgent elective procedures will cease at all Florida veteran health centers under the new guidelines and will be rescheduled. Those veterans with existing appointments will be contacted several days ahead to discuss available virtual options. Urgent elective procedures will continue in Florida centers.

Virtual urgent care continues to be available 24/7 to veterans enrolled in the Florida network by calling 1-877-741-3400 or by using the VA Health Chat App.

Under the new guidelines, a visitor is allowed in Florida veteran health centers only if required to provide assistance moving a patient to and from an appointment, providing support to an inpatient in a palliative or hospice care unit, or with veterans who have major procedures.

Visitors who screen positive for coronavirus will not be granted access to the medical centers and mandatory enhanced screenings are still in effect for all patients, employees, and visitors.

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