Coronavirus FAQs: What Veterans need to know - VA Portland Health Care System
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VA Portland Health Care System

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Coronavirus FAQs: What Veterans need to know

Please keep your social distance and stop the spread of the virus. Keep 6 feet from others.

It takes everyone's diligent effort to do what we can to beat this virus. Please, help your fellow Veterans, those at risk, and your loved ones and follow good social distancing practices everywhere. Thank you.

By CDC
Friday, March 20, 2020
Veterans, please use MyHealtheVet or call VA Portland at 503-220-8262, option 2 to relay a message to your Primary or Specialty Care team or to make change or cancel an appointment.

To help us address the most urgent needs first, we ask that you use our online tools and frequently asked questions for routine or non-urgent questions. We’ll continue to update this page as the situation changes. See also the VA web page with updated information.

What's coronavirus COVID-19?

The CDC defines COVID-19 as a new type of coronavirus (or “novel coronavirus”). COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses that are common in people and different animal species. On rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and then spread from person-to-person. This is how COVID-19 started. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

To learn more about COVID-19, prevention steps, guidance for high-risk groups, travelers, and more, visit the CDC.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you have a fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, call your VA medical center before going to a clinic, urgent care, or emergency room. You can also send your doctor a secure message through My HealtheVet.

Contacting us first helps us protect you, medical staff, and other patients.
Use MyHealtheVet or call VA Portland at 503-220-8262, option 2 to relay a message to your Primary or Specialty Care team or to make change or cancel an appointment.

Visit the CDC to learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19.

What's VA doing to deal with COVID-19?

We have activated VA’s emergency management coordination cell (EMCC), and have started clinical screenings at all VA facilities. Learn about VA’s public health response 

Can I be tested for COVID-19?

Testing is based on many factors, including the severity of symptoms, other existing illnesses or conditions, possible exposure, and other criteria. VA health facilities have been testing Veterans who meet the testing criteria provided by the CDC.

What should I do if I have an upcoming VA health appointment?

For routine appointments, we recommend using telehealth (phone or video) for your scheduled appointment. You can also cancel and reschedule your appointment for a later date.

If you have a non-urgent elective procedure scheduled, we may contact you to cancel or reschedule for a later date. Note: Urgent and emergent procedures will continue as scheduled.

To change your in-person appointment to a telehealth visit:

  • Use Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet to send a  message to your provider.
  • Use the VA appointments tool to schedule a telehealth appointment online. (Available only for some types of health services.)
  • Call VA Portland at 503-220-8262, option 2 to relay a message to your Primary or Specialty Care team or to make change or cancel an appointment.

Learn about VA telehealth appointments

How do I reschedule or cancel my upcoming VA appointment?

Some clinics are advising patients to not reschedule or schedule new appointments for some types of routine care.  Please use MyHealtheVet or call VA Portland at 503-220-8262, option 2 to relay a message to your Primary or Specialty Care team or to make change or cancel an appointment.

What should I do if I need to refill my prescription?

If you currently get your prescription sent to you by mail, you’ll continue to receive your refills as normal. If you usually pick up your prescriptions in person, we encourage you to use our online prescription refill and tracking tool. To make sure you have your medicine in time,  request your refill at least 10 days before you’ll run out of your current prescription.

For questions about your prescriptions, send a secure message to your provider through My HealtheVet. 

Prescription Refill Requests in Response to COVID-19

All Veterans may request changing their formulary, maintenance medications from 30 day fills to 90 day fills:

    1. Call the VISN Call Center at 1-503-220-8262 option 1
    2. Use  My HealtheVet and choosing “Ask the Pharmacy.”

All patient requests for days’ supply changes will be sent to the patient’s VA provider. 

VA Pharmacy cannot send patients 90 day fills of controlled substances, supply items and certain high risk medications. 

Pharmacy will not fill more than 90 days’ supply of maintenance medications per one time request. 

Patients are always encouraged to use the mail for additional refills of their medications.   Veteran’s may request prescriptions using Audiocare at 1-888-400-8387 or requesting them through My HealtheVet. 


Here is VA Portland's Pharmacy web page with contact info and other details.

Can I use emergency/urgent care?

If you’re experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest ER / ED.

Don't forget about Urgent Care options in your community for eligible Veterans.

If you have an urgent/emergent care need, we ask that you contact us first. Call VA Portland at 503-220-8262, option 2 to relay a message to your Primary or Specialty Care team or "0" and ask for Emergency Department. By not using the ED/ER for nonmedical emergencies, you can help us protect you, medical staff, and other patients, as well as help us address critical medical needs first during this period of COVID-19 outbreak. 

Symptoms that may need emergency medical (immediate) attention include:

  • Chest pain
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms or on one side of your body
  • Severe fever or violent vomiting
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop

Symptoms that may need urgent care attention (within 24 to 48 hours) include:

  • Sore throat, earache
  • Sprains or strained muscles from sports or exercise
  • Minor cuts and injuries

I don’t have symptoms, but I feel anxious and overwhelmed. What can I do?

Concerns about COVID-19 can be stressful for many people, and it’s understandable to feel anxious. It’s  important to take steps to manage stress and take care of yourself.


For more details about guidance for high-risg groups, travelers, COVID-19 resources for the community and more...

CDC COVID-19 Website

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