By Chanda Johnson
On Saturday, July 11, Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center (JBVA) joined the America’s Heroes Group radio show to discuss increasing face-to-face visits and the emergency department. Panelists from JBVA included Associate Chief of Staff for Clinical Affairs Dr. James Brunner, Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Brendan Steadman and Public Affairs Officer Chanda Johnson.
COVID-19 has sent the world into a tail spin. Everyone had to quickly adjust to a new normal. At Jesse Brown VA, many appointments were moved to virtual care through Telehealth and VA Video Connect. VA Video Connect allows Veterans and their caregivers to meet virtually with their VA care teams on any computer, tablet, or mobile device with an internet connection. During the pandemic, VA Video Connect supports Veterans’ ability to continue care safely at home. JBVA has conducted over 5,000 telehealth appointments between March and June 2020.
JBVA is executing a plan to move forward with expanding the number of face-to-face appointments after they were minimized in response to COVID-19. While the hospital is beginning to increase the volume of face-to-face visits, Veterans are reminded that walk-in clinics are not open at this time. Only patients with confirmed scheduled appointments should present to the facility, unless they are experiencing an urgent medical or mental health issue.
The Emergency Department at JBVA has remained open 24/7 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing care to our Veterans. This includes the main ER as well as a Fast Track area for faster evaluation and treatment of lower acuity patients. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Department has also run a COVID tent, physically located outside the facility to provide testing and evaluation of stable patients in a separate area, limiting exposure to those inside the hospital while still providing high-quality care.
Any JBVA patient in need of emergency transport within the City of Chicago can self-identify as a Veteran and request emergency transportation to JBVA by the Chicago Fire Department (CFD). However, the severity of illness/injury and CFD’s operational resources are determining factors on the patient’s destination.
It is safe to come into the facility for appointments or emergent needs. As JBVA welcomes Veterans back, they continue safety measures including, but not limited to, physical distancing, environmental cleaning recommendations outlined by the CDC, mandatory face coverings, and screening protocols at facility entrances for signs of the COVID-19 infection. The safety and wellbeing of Veterans is the facility’s number one priority. Veterans can contact the JBVA call center to discuss appointment options at 1-888-569-5282.
JBVA encourages Veterans to remain focused on mental health. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, press 1 if you are a Veteran.