The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving patients from its New Orleans medical center to its hospitals in Mississippi as cases of COVID-19 there continue to grow.
So far, New Orleans has been the hardest-hit area of the country for veterans infected with and dying of the coronavirus. On March 31, VA reported more than 250 cases of veterans positive for the virus in New Orleans and at least four veteran deaths.
Overall, VA is tracking more than 1,300 infected veterans at its facilities nationwide and officials said more than 40 had died. VA said it had administered nearly 15,000 tests across the country.
VA healthcare systems "routinely work together to transfer patients between facilities to balance capacity," Phillip Walls, a spokesman for the New Orleans VA, said in an email to Connecting Vets.
"Given the concentration of COVID-19 cases among New Orleans-area veterans, the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System has started transferring some of its non-COVID, non-acute inpatients from its New Orleans location to the Biloxi and Jackson VA Medical Centers for care on an as-needed basis," Walls said.
The moves ensure the New Orleans VA "maintains enough capacity to accommodate existing and future COVID-19 patients," he said.
VA recently announced it was deploying additional resources in the form of mobile medical units to New Orleans, along with other areas dealing with a surge of virus patients, including New York City and California.
VA officials are asking veterans with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath to call before arriving at a VA medical facility. Many appointments are being moved online using VA’s telehealth system in an attempt to further prevent the spread of infection.
VA also produced a guide for veterans on coronavirus.