VA Portland Health Care System
Update from VAPORHCS Director
I want to give everyone an update on our cluster of COVID-19 positive cases we experienced at the Portland VA Medical Center (PVAMC) that started the first week of May. For background, here is a link to my first update on this exposure event.
We are happy to report that the infection control measures we put in place after we identified the cluster of COVID-19 positive cases at PVAMC have worked. Extensive patient and staff testing and retesting across all inpatient units has not revealed any new cases linked to the outbreak for over 12 days. We continue to perform COVID-19 testing of all patients upon admission to VA Portland Health Care System.
Now, a month later from the initial infected patient presentation, we have had a total of 36 cases who tested positive for COVID-19 in connection with this event; this included 28 staff and 8 Veterans - all associated with the Portland campus. Three inpatient units were affected; each was closed to new admissions once the cases were recognized. Remaining patients were consolidated onto one unit, and each unit was closed for deep cleaning. One of those closed units has since reopened and another is scheduled to open this week.
Several of the people who tested positive have since recovered and returned home or to work and most are on their way to getting well.
- We will begin accepting ambulances to the emergency department and accepting inpatient transfers from outside facilities early next week.
- 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 regular employee testing for our inpatient areas.
- No visitors are allowed in any VAPORHCS facility; outpatients and those having procedure done may have one person who is not sick as a driver / caregiver; no one under 18 allowed.
- We will soon start phasing in additional out-patient and other face-to-face services as the regional COVID-19 situation allows based on VA, CDC, and local and regional government and health authority guidance.
Our Infection Control team has given us solid leadership and strong clinical guidance throughout this pandemic. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. We must all remain vigilant; complacency could yield additional infections and unnecessary risk for all of us. We are proud of how we handled this and how we, as a team, did everything correctly to stop the environmental spread. We all take a sigh of relief, but we must also square our shoulders and continue the fight. COVID-19 is still with us and we will continue to care for sick Veterans; many of whom could be infected with COVID-19. However, we have been at this for a while. You know what you are doing. Your VA team knows how to do this better than most and I believe in my team and I know our Veterans believe in their VA health care team as well.
We at VA Portland Health Care System are committed to being transparent about our operational environment and to make this the safest place of care possible for our Veterans, guests and staff alike. We know this has been a challenging time for everyone in many ways and we are very eager to begin offering you more options for your care as soon as we can safely do so.
Thank you for your service and for letting us serve you.
Director, VA Portland Health Care System