Our VA Hospitals

I know some of you are biting at the bit to get back into our VA facilities.  Kathleen Ditch received a letter from the John Cochran Hospital outlining what they are doing.  The VA Hospital or Home you are working with are probably making some of these same changes and we wanted to let you know what John Cochran is doing.
Remember this is from John Cochran, but some of your places are making some of the same decisions.

Hey everyone, I know it seems like forever since we laid eyes on each other, I wanted to reach out to you today and just let you know you are in our thoughts.

Maybe you deliver supplies, maybe you are the first person a veteran sees as a greeter/ambassador, maybe you assist our EMS dept in keeping the place clean, maybe you are providing that invaluable service of bringing our veterans in for their appointment.  Whatever your assignment may be since there are so many of them, trust me your absence is felt. We are beginning to make plans for the future and will definitely keep you posted on that. No date has been confirmed for the movement to reestablishing full medical service. Once we get that information from our clinical staff we will make plans for the safe return of volunteers to the campus.

1.Safe care is our mission. As a health care system we will begin methodically increasing elective care where and when it is safe for Veterans. VA plan moving forward will be a new normal; you will see fewer people sitting in waiting rooms and an increased use of personal protective equipment and masking, among other changes for the safety of  Veterans and our employees.

2.VAVS staff is meeting weekly to discuss what the St. Louis Volunteer Program will be moving forward. The coronavirus pandemic has placed us in the position where we must re-evaluate what we do, how we do it, how often it is performed, who performs it and when it is performed. I can say with certainty that you will not return to the same program that  we had when you departed.  We will have a slow, intentional, and systematic return of our furloughed volunteers. All volunteers INCLUDING current and vested volunteers WILL receive NEW TRAINING before you are permitted to return to active volunteer status. As part of the full program review, we are checking every volunteer job and duties  There will be some jobs that will be changed and/or abolished.  We will review your volunteer position and duties with you upon your return to active volunteer status. As a department we have implemented many new processes to keep, the staff and Veterans as safe as possible. Many of these safety measures will be expected of you as VA volunteers.

3.The medical center’s clinical services are also doing a similar review with our Executive Leadership Team to ensure that as the clinical programs are returned to full operations, we are doing so in a safe and responsible manner. These evaluations will be conducted over a 2 week period. Support services and programs, such as voluntary service will have an opportunity to also review and present program revisions for the future.

4.During the first week of May we typically open enrollment for our Summer Youth Volunteer program. We have made the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s Youth Volunteer program. We plan to use this time to redesign the program and update it to meet today’s more stringent requirements. We will miss the presence and energy of our youth. Our past participants will be receiving a letter from us announcing the cancelation of this year’s program.

5.We have so many canceled plans that I’m happy to be able to announce one redesigned NOT canceled program. This year’s Women Warrior Baby shower hosted by the American Red Cross (ARC) is being rescheduled for July 19th.  I am so impressed with the ingenuity of our partners. ARC is hosting a Drive-Thru Baby Shower for 75 new moms.  We are working with ARC to make this year’s program just as successful as all of the rest. Due to the coronavirus, we are encouraging organizations to make monetary donations. The funds will be will used to purchase items for baby shower. You can make the check payable to AV St. Louis HCS with Baby Shower in the memo section.

6.We are hosting a blood drive at JC in the Enright Building on June 11th.  The blood drive is open to the public.  Appointments are needed.  Donating Blood Makes a Big Difference in the Lives of Others. Red Cross and others have experienced a large drop in Blood drives and donations. VA St. Louis is participating in a Mayo Clinic study that uses convalescent plasma that contains antibodies from individuals recovered from COVID-19. Doctors have seen positive results from this protocol. We have just started the study and have few Veterans that have received the treatment.

7. For the last 32 years, we’ve always known that on the Tuesday before Memorial Day, Rolling Thunder would come riding down 255/270, heading into the VA grounds to remember our hero’s at national cemetery and honor our Veterans at VAMC. The Run was started in 1987 by a couple of Vietnam Veterans to raise awareness of our POWs/MIAs. Due to the COVID 19 situation the 2020 Run For The Wall has been CANCELLED…😩

8. The 70 year tradition of scouts placing flags at each headstone will be observed in a different manner this year. The National Cemetery Administration has announced that the National Cemeteries will not hold public Memorial Day Ceremonies but individual cemeteries may hold private memorial services. Information on the planned JB National Cemetery Memorial Day observation has not been announced. Plans will be consistent with CDC guidelines. The Scouts and Flags will be missed.

9. Last week VA instituted full masking across the entire VA health care system to protect our staff and patients from asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus. All employees, patients, visitors, contractors and volunteers MUST wear a face covering or mask while on duty at any VA health care facility; hospital and clinic.

We hope you are taking good care of yourselves and your loved ones. These are difficult times we are in right now but you are VAVS strong.  Stay Healthy because you will be expected back.  You may be outta sight but definitely not outta mind.


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