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  WNC-MOAA : Western North Carolina Chapter MOAA COVID-19 and Health: Information about the Pandemic

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Charles George VA Medical Center

COVID 19 conference call with VA director and Assistant Chief of Mental Health

August 13 conference call with Charles George VA Director, Stephanie Young and Assistant Chief of Mental Health, Dr. Laura Tugman.

We were given updates about our overall healthcare at Charles George and coping strategies managing PTSD during these difficult times. Both presenters took questions after their presentations. We previously had a similar conference call two months ago. For those on the call it was an opportunity to hear specifics about our healthcare and also be upfront and personal with our leaders. For your review I have included some highlights from both presentations.

Stephanie Young:

As always Charles George VA continues to be focused on the mission to provide healthcare for our veterans. Safety of the staff and the veterans are paramount. Face masks are required for veterans entering Charles George VA. Also staff are required to wear masks.

Priority 1 Veterans are seen face to face if clinically indicated. Otherwise Charles George encourages veterans to use VA Video Connect (the reports are positive from utilization of video connect especially not having to travel to your appointment) and phone visits appropriate and possible.

Visitors are limited to Charles George VA unless absolutely required for medical reasons.. No children are allowed in the facility at this time.

Infectious Control staff are doing assessments, maintaining 6 feet distance while in Charles George, and also doing extra cleaning of the facility.

VEText Patient Tracker Program will be implemented at Charles George where a veteran’s vehicle turns into a waiting room until they are ready to be seen. If a veteran cannot text or doesn’t have a vehicle to wait in-it is business as usual.

New signage will be appearing at Charles George VA to better help the veteran navigate their visit.

Dental visits have started limited to about 50 a day.

Outside pharmacy location, in front of Community Living Center will continue, and the satellite lab in Building 70 is available by appointment only.

Elective surgeries are starting to come back.

VA residents will start returning next month.

Dr. Laura Tugman:

Management of PTSD during this difficult time will be a struggle especially the longer it goes on the more difficult veterans will have coping.

The isolation veterans are experiencing is leading to more anxiety and depression. Isolation is a huge trigger.

Veterans are reporting more hyperarousal PTSD symptoms-especially feeling hyper-vigilant which puts the veteran in survival mode.

Four Foundational Recovery Concepts which can be helpful during these times: 1) Hope that things will improve, 2) Support, finding support from our family, friends, and peer led drop in groups which are now virtual, 3) Education about our illness whether psychological or physical can be comforting, 4) Self-advocacy, asking for what you need and advocate for what you need.

Download the COVID Coach, free application that has many tools to help veterans during this difficult time.

We are encouraged to do our part in engaging isolated individuals, reach and and offer support. One thing people do when they get depressed is isolate-avoid feeling helpless and hopeless-be there for others-vets helping vets!