Update from VAPORHCS Director - VA Portland Health Care System
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VA Portland Health Care System

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Update from VAPORHCS Director

An important update to our Veterans from the Director, VA Portland Health Care System

This is a follow-up operational update from the Director to ensure our Veterans are informed on the latest happenings within VA Portland Health Care System; please read this. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Greetings my fellow Veterans:

To begin, I want to give everyone an update on our cluster of COVID-19 positive cases on the Portland Campus. 

     - Now, more than a week on, we have a total 34 cases (27 staff; 7 Veterans); we have added 3 additional staff members since my last update. 
     - The people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are all associated with the Portland campus.
     - We are not currently accepting ambulances to the emergency department or accepting inpatient transfers from outside facilities until the situation is well understood.
     - Our emergency room is open for Veterans who need emergent care, we are just deferring ambulances.
     - We are still requiring masking for all Veterans, visitors and staff entering VA Portland facilities and we have stepped up employee testing for our inpatient areas. 

The situation seems to be stabilizing and our mitigation efforts are paying off.  More to come in the coming days and weeks. Hopefully this cluster is behind us as we continue to rethink how to provide world class health care to our Veteran heroes in these uncertain times.

We at VA Portland Health Care System are committed to meeting all your health and wellness needs during this unprecedented time. We know this has been particularly challenging over the past two months and are eager to begin offering you more options for your care as soon as we can safely do so.

Our clinical leaders have been planning how best to expand face-to-face care offerings at each of our locations while continuing to protect our vulnerable Veteran population and our health care workers. These plans are guided by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Veterans Health Administration, and local health authorities. The COVID-19 situation remains unpredictable, however, so we will have to be flexible. I pledge to keep you updated at each step along this journey.

Measures in place now to keep you safe:

  • We continue to prioritize in-person appointments for those most in need and to use video or phone appointments where possible; talk to your provider if you have any questions about face-to-face care options.
  • Our staff are cleaning exam rooms thoroughly between every visit.
  • Waiting rooms and common areas have been arranged to encourage physical distancing and are being disinfected multiple times a day.
  • A “Masks On” policy is in place for all patients and staff at all VAPORHCS facilities; you can bring your own mask, or we will provide one when you arrive.
  • Visitor restrictions remain at all VAPORHCS facilities; we ask that you come alone to face-to-face appointments or bring one healthy person over the age of 18 if you require assistance.  

If you are not already receiving these updates in your email, please sign up on the main VAPORHCS website under CONNECT WITH VA PORTLAND HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

Below is more detail about our services.

Thank you for your service and for letting us serve you.

Darwin Goodspeed
Director, VA Portland Health Care System

Current status of clinical services and contact information

Emergency Dept & Urgent Care

  • Emergency Department - open 24 hours a day
  • Due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases in our inpatient wards we are not accepting ambulances. For more information, please see the original message from the Director dated May 13, 2020.
  • Primary Care – same-day services including limited walk-in care at all sites except for the Lincoln City CBOC

Outpatient Clinical Care

  • VA Video Connect (video) and telephone appointments are broadly available
  • Face-to-face appointments remain restricted but are occurring when clinically indicated
  • Planning now for expanding routine care; updates will be provided

**The Eye Clinic will begin offering routine appointments in Vancouver in coming weeks.   Eye Clinic staff will reach out shortly to schedule those whose care was postponed.

Procedures & Surgical Services

  • Procedures and surgeries remain limited to urgent/emergent cases
  • Postponed procedures and new referrals are reviewed regularly for clinical urgency
  • Planning now for expanding procedural and surgical services; updates will be provided


  • Urgent refills - curbside pick-up at Portland & Vancouver campuses M-F 8:00am-4:00pm
  • Non-urgent medications - mail-order delivery, automated phone line is 503-273-5201 or use MyHealtheVet
  • See the Pharmacy website for more information on curbside pick-up


  • Clinically indicated urgent exams/studies continue to be scheduled and performed
  • Walk-in available for urgent x-ray at:
    • Hillsboro: M-F 8:00 am-4:30 pm
    • Salem: M-F 8:00 am-4:30 pm
    • Vancouver: M-F 8:00 am-4:00 pm
    • Portland: M-Sun 24/7
  • MRI, Ultrasound, CT, Nuclear Medicine, & Interventional Radiology by appointment only

Community Care

  • Urgent/emergent care continues to be authorized to the TriWest network
  • VA health care providers are reviewing community care requests and reaching out to Veterans to assess care needs and to offer care within VA as able
  • TriWest network providers remain limited in the volume and types of care that they can offer; updates will be provided as network providers are able to schedule

Contact Information

  • To make, change, or cancel an appointment or to relay a message to your Primary Care or Specialty Care Provider – 503-220-8262, option 2
  • Mental Health – 503-273-5187
  • Pharmacy – 888-400-8387
  • Imaging – 503-273-5126
  • Eye Services – 503-721-7890, Option 3
  • Community Care – 360-759-1674; community care billing or claims questions, opt 1; make/change or cancel non-VA appointment, opt 2

Please visit the My HealtheVet website for more information about accessing your health record, VA Video Connect, and Secure Messaging.


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