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Amarillo VA Health Care System changes visitation policy amid COVID-19 surge

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:36 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Starting today, the Amarillo VA Health Care System has changed their visitation policy and are asking patients to refrain from bringing visitors into its clinics.

This policy change comes with the increase in COVID-19 cases and the Delta Variant to try and minimize the risk to other patients and staff.

“We still have a pretty significant amount of immunocompromised veterans within our health care system, so a lot of times it is important to give them that safety. A veteran to veteran may not always realize they may be next to a cancer patient or a compromised patient, so it’s very important with what’s going on in our community this uptick that we’ve seen to make sure that they know they are safe when they come onto our campus,” said Catherine Ewing, associate director of patient care services at Amarillo VA Health Care System.

She said there are some exceptions to this policy and they will still allow caregivers to accompany veterans to appointments.

“Certainty we understand that our veteran population has some special needs and we many times have care providers within the home and/or even outside the home that assist our veterans in their appointments on campus and we certainly understand their value,” said Ewing.

She said this decision comes to protect their veterans as they are on the campus.

Amarillo VA Health Care System says they have seen a rise in COVID-19 at their campus as well.

“We have seen that uptick our ED is lightly more busy, we certainly have seen an increase in our inpatient hospitalization numbers, so it’s still very true to be here in our community we have seen a little bit increase within our employee community. We are ready for our veterans we have made accommodations and we’ll continue to be ready and willing,” said Ewing.

She also mentions virtual options they have in place for their patients.

For inpatient settings, they have iPads that the staff can give to a veteran to use to have a virtual visit with their family.

With the outpatient settings, they have virtual appointment options.

“Providers can actually see their patients many times through a virtual visit that way it limits the risk of the veteran coming out into the community, but it also allows us to still be able to provide updates to their plan of care as they move forward treating whatever condition that requires a provider assistance,” said Ewing.

They say they encourage individuals within the community to become vaccinated and says they offer walk-in vaccinations.

This policy change is also taking effect at clinic locations in Childress, Clovis, Dalhart and Lubbock.

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