COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Patients and Visitors - VA Maryland Health Care System
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VA Maryland Health Care System

 

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Patients and Visitors

Last updated July 16, 2020

The safety of our Veteran patients and employees continues to be our top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving Forward Plan – Phase 2 NEW!

Phase 2 of our Moving Forward Plan went into effect July 6.

In Phase 1, we expanded limited face-to-face services at the Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers and the Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic:

Phase 2 included the reopening of the remainder of our community based outpatient clinics, the Baltimore VA Annex and most other clinical areas throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System for limited face-to-face services. As we move forward, the safety of our patients and employees will remain our top priority.

Virtual Care Options

For the safety of our Veteran patients, we encourage them to continue using our virtual care options (telehealth and video appointments) for specialty care, primary care and mental health services. 

As a reminder, Veterans needing medical advice can contact the Telephone Care Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-865-2441, and Veterans in crisis can speak with a specially trained responder 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-273-8255, press 1.

Emergency and Urgent Care

The Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and the Urgent Care Clinic at the Perry Point VA Medical Center remain OPEN during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both are safe options for receiving urgent health care during the pandemic.

Perry Point Center Campus Closed (Open for Scheduled Appointments and Urgent Care)

For the protection of our patients and employees against the spread of COVID-19, the campus of the Perry Point VA Medical Center is closed to the public until further notice. This closure applies to the entire campus, including non-patient areas like the shoreline and walking trails. Only VA employees, outpatients with scheduled clinic appointments, patients visiting the Urgent Care Clinic, residential care patients, residents of the HELP Veterans Village, and authorized deliveries will be granted access to the campus. The Urgent Care Clinic at the Perry Point VA Medical Center remains open.

Screenings

Anyone entering any VA Maryland Health Care System facility (including the Baltimore parking garage) will be screened using Coronavirus-related questions.

Screen Pass NEW!

To make the COVID-19 screening process more efficient, we have implemented Screen Pass, which allows patients to use their smartphones to answer the COVID-19 screening questions before coming to the VA for a scheduled clinic appointment.

Here is how the Screen Pass works:

  • Before coming to a VA Maryland Health Care System facility, text the word “Screen” to 53079 or visit www.va.gov/covid19screen on your smartphone.
  • Answer the simple screening questions.
  • If you pass the screening, “OK to proceed” will be displayed on your phone screen.
  • When you arrive for your appointment, just show your phone to the screener and you will be given access to the VA.
  • If “More screening needed” is displayed, please call the Telephone Care Line at 1-800-865-2441 for guidance.
Centralized Check-in at the Baltimore VA Medical Center NEW!
  • The centralized check-in and waiting area for outpatient specialty clinic appointments at the Baltimore VA Medical Center is now located in the Canteen dining area on the 2nd floor. Other details about the new centralized check-in and waiting area include:
  • Please note: The screening only needs to be completed once per day and your information will not be stored. For individuals who don’t have a smartphone, are not familiar with Screen Pass, or forgot to answer the screening questions using Screen Pass before arriving at the VA, screeners will still be available to verbally ask the COVID-19-related screening questions.
  • After checking in, all Veteran outpatients will be asked to wait in the new waiting area until their number is displayed on a large screen monitor.
  • Outpatients will be able to report to the appropriate outpatient specialty care clinic after their number has been displayed.
  • As an additional safety precaution, the kiosks to check-in for all clinic appointments are no longer available.
  • Veterans using the Emergency Department will not need to use the centralized check-in area.
  • The hours of operation for the centralized check-in area will be Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Patients with primary care clinic appointments will not be required to check-in at the centralized check in area. Patients with primary care clinic appointments will be able to report directly to the primary care clinic on the 1st floor at the Baltimore VAMC to check-in.

VEText NEW!

To protect our Veteran patients, we are introducing a new VEText feature that allows them to check-in for scheduled VA outpatient appointments at most VA Maryland Health Care System locations before entering the facilities.  

Beginning July 6, patients with scheduled appointments at the facilities and clinics listed below can use their cellphone to notify their care team that they have arrived at the VA before entering the building. 

  • Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic
  • Eastern Baltimore County VA Outpatient Clinic
  • Fort Meade VA Outpatient Clinic
  • Glen Burnie VA Outpatient Clinic
  • Loch Raven VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic (3910 The Alameda)
  • Perry Point VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic (Building 361)
  • Pocomoke VA Outpatient Clinic

How to Use VEText to Check-In for Appointments: Use your cellphone to text the word “here” to 53079 once you have arrived in the parking lot of the VA facility where you have a scheduled appointment. This will notify your care team that you have arrived and are waiting to be called in for your clinic appointment. VEText will send an automatic response acknowledging your arrival and a text message informing for you to wait outside for further instructions. You will then receive a call from a clinic staff member who will ask you the COVID-19-related screening questions, review your insurance information, and complete any additional information as part of the check-in process.

Please note, patients must use the cellphone number that is on file in their VA electronic health record to check-in using VEText. To verify or update your cell phone number on record, call the Veterans Health Administration Call Center Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at 877-222-8387 and press option 1.

We’re Ready to See You Now:  When your VA provider is ready to see you, you will receive a text message providing the okay for you to proceed into the building. Once in the building, you will be greeted by a clinic staff member and escorted to an exam room for your appointment.

How to Check-In Without a Cellphone or Text Plan:
If you do not have a cellphone with a text plan, please call the appropriate number listed below when you arrive in the parking lot of the VA facility where you have a scheduled appointment to notify your care team that you have arrived. A clinic staff member will ask you the COVID-19-related screening questions, review your insurance information, and complete any additional information as part of the check-in process. The staff member will then instruct you to wait outside until you are ready to be seen. When your VA provider is ready to see you, you will receive a phone call letting you know it is okay for you to proceed into the building. Once in the building, you will be greeted by a clinic staff member and escorted to an exam room for your appointment. 

  • Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-901-4077
  • Eastern Baltimore County VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-605-7000, ext. 51101
  • Fort Meade VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-305-5304
  • Glen Burnie VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-590-4153
  • Loch Raven VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic – 410-605-7000, ext. 51101
  • Perry Point VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic – 410-642-2511, ext. 26515
  • Pocomoke VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-957-6930

Universal Masking Policy
Patients are required to wear a mask at all times when visiting a VA Maryland Health Care System facility for a scheduled, onsite clinic appointment. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, patients who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed to enter a VA facility or will be asked to leave if they do not wear a mask while waiting for an appointment or traveling throughout a VA facility. Patients with a scheduled, onsite clinic appointment will be issued a mask if they arrive without one.

Visitor Guidance
Visitors are not authorized throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System to protect our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19, except for the following:

  • Two visitors for end-of-life care and decision making;
  • One escort for patients being discharged from inpatient care;
  • One escort for medically compromised outpatients with a scheduled, onsite clinic appointment;
  • One visitor who has been asked by the inpatient care team to attend and be part of the treatment and discharge planning process.
  • All visitors will be screened for flu-like symptoms and will be required to wear a mask at all times while in a VA facility.  Visitors who do not pass the screening process will not be allowed to enter the facility.
Mail-Order Prescriptions Only
To limit the exposure of COVID-19, Pharmacy is continuing with the successful use of mailing new and renewal prescriptions, including express and overnight delivery. The Outpatient Pharmacies at the Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers will only honor emergent prescription needs for in-person pick up. All other medications and supplies will be mailed. Veterans have the following options to refill their prescriptions.
  • Call the Prescription Refill Line at 410-605-7395. After hearing the greeting, enter your full nine-digit Social Security number followed by the “#” sign. Next, press option “2” for Pharmacy Information, and then press option “1” to order prescription refills.
  • Complete and sign the refill request slip you received with your prescription and use the mailing label that was included to send it in to one of our two pharmacies.
  • Submit a refill request through My HealtheVet at www.myhealth.va.gov.
  • If you have no remaining refills, call the Prescription Refill Line at 410-605-7395. After hearing the greeting, enter your full nine-digit Social Security number followed by the “#” sign. Next, press option “2” for Pharmacy Information, and then press option “8” to talk to a pharmacy representative.
Important Telephone Numbers
  • Telephone Care Line: If you need medical advice, call the Telephone Care Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-865-2441, press 1.
  • Medical Emergencies:  If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911 immediately.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: If you are a Veteran in crisis, there are specially trained responders ready to help you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-273-8255, press 1.
  • Appointment Center: To schedule, change, cancel or confirm a clinic appointment, contact the Appointment Center at 410-605-7333 Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Stay Informed
  • To receive the latest COVID-19 information from the VA Maryland Health Care System, enroll for our E-News Subscription Service. To enroll, visit www.maryland.va.gov and enter your email address under “Subscribe to Receive Email Updates” on our homepage.
  • You can also receive COVID-19-updates by calling our VA Maryland Health Care System COVID-19 Information Line at 410-605-7384. (This is a recording only and does not accept voicemails.)
  • For the latest guidance from VA about the Coronavirus, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus