The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System is taking extra precautions aimed at limiting COVID-19 exposure risk to veterans, employees, volunteers and visitors.

Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of COVID-19, flu or cold should call 800-423-2111 before coming to CTVHCS facilities. Clinical staff are available 24 hours a day to provide virtual care and support, including nurse advice and triage. This service is available at no cost to veterans enrolled for VA health care.

CTVHCS includes the following medical centers and outpatient clinics:

• Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple

• Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Waco

• Austin Outpatient Clinic

• Brownwood Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC)

• Cedar Park CBOC

• College Station CBOC

• LaGrange CBOC

• Palestine CBOC

• Temple Clinic Annex

• Joint VA/Department of Defense Sleep Center in Killeen

MANDATORY SCREENING

To minimize risk, mandatory screening started March 16 at CTVHCS clinics to rapidly identify individuals who may have symptoms of respiratory illness and to direct them for further treatment. Patients should plan to arrive well in advance of appointment time to comply with the screening process.

Beginning this week, entrances to the Temple and Waco medical centers will be limited. Maps detailing the entrances are available at https://www.centraltexas.va.gov/visitors/campus_Screening.asp. This may lengthen entry times, so patients are advised to allow for that when arriving for appointments.

The mandatory screening consists of three questions:

1. Do you have a fever or worsening cough or shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms?

2. Have you or a close contact traveled to an area with widespread or sustained community transmission of COVID-19 within 14 days of symptom onset?

3. Have you been in close contact with someone, including health care workers, confirmed to have COVID-19?

VISITOR POLICIES

Visitor policies are as follows: • A temporary “no visitor” policy has been adopted at all CTVHCS facilities.

• Access to the Community Living Centers (VA nursing homes), Domiciliary, Residential Units and visitation to the inpatient units is no longer permitted. These units are being strictly monitored to protect patients deemed more vulnerable and at higher risk. No outside visitors will be permitted to see residents in these units and inpatient areas. The only exceptions will be when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units.

• For outpatient clinic appointments in the Central Texas area, veterans are encouraged to limit family members to one while accompanying them to their appointment or immediate caregivers only and no children under 18 years of age.

• CTVHCS has canceled all special events and/or activities and is temporarily ceasing participation in public outreach events through April 30.

Aside from the changes noted above, CTVHCS remains fully operational. Veterans with scheduled appointments should plan to complete them as they normally would, while allowing extra time for screening.

Additional changes may be made as the situation changes.

More information for veterans is available at www.va.gov/coronavirus.

For more about CTVHCS facilities and to keep informed, visit the website at http://www.centraltexas.va.gov/ or the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CentralTexasVA.