Prepare for Your Visit - San Francisco VA Health Care System
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San Francisco VA Health Care System

 

Prepare for Your Visit

Prepare for a visit: Everyone entering our facilities is screened, and visitors are limited. Face coverings are mandatory. Please contact us first before going to any of our locations. For some needs, you may be able to get care at home by phone or video.

The San Francisco VA Health Care System has adjusted operations to ensure we can continue to deliver the best care to Veterans in the safest way possible. While we always strive to provide a clean environment, we are taking additional measures, such as frequent cleaning of high-touch areas like doorknobs, handrails, countertops and vinyl seating, as well as removing magazines and other paper documents from waiting areas. Rigorous cleaning will continue in inpatient areas. As a reminder, washing your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) is still the best way to clean your hands. However, if that is not possible, additional hand hygiene stations are located throughout our facilities.

The following safety measures have been implemented at the San Francisco VA Medical Center until further notice:

(Click a link below to jump to a topic)

Stay home and Phone | Appointments | Surgeries
Entry to the San Francisco VA Medical Center and Clinics | Face Mask Policy
Screenings | Visitor Policy | Medical Emergencies
Shuttles To/From the SFVAMC | Veterans Crisis Line | CBOCs

Stay Home and Phone

The San Francisco VA continues to be available to meet all of your health care needs. We offer visits in person, by video and by phone, and we are scheduling both urgent and elective procedures and surgeries.

We encourage Veterans to use our virtual care options (Telehealth, VA Video Connect), if appropriate for your health care needs in specialty care, primary care and mental health services. In person visits can be scheduled at your request and in coordination with your care team.

Veterans with pressing needs that require same-day care can now request a virtual urgent care visit with a SFVAMC provider through Express Care. Express Care visits are available only for certain medical problems including, but not limited to, cough, skin rash or urinary symptoms. Express Care is not intended to treat medical emergencies. Learn more. If you are having a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.

Appointments

Patients with scheduled in-person appointments should arrive no earlier than 45 minutes prior to avoid overcrowding of waiting areas. If Veterans arrive sooner, they may be asked to wait in their vehicles.

We made changes to waiting areas, check-in desks and other common spaces to encourage physical distancing. Please stay at least six feet away from others at all times. Additional space between seating, plexiglass panels, limited elevator capacity, visual markings on floors are just a few of the changes you will notice at our facilities. Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed around the medical center and clinics.

Surgeries

Elective surgeries and procedures have been postponed. All pre-procedural (aerosol-generating and high-risk, due to close/prolonged contact with oral/nasal airway), newly admitted, transferred and symptomatic patients will undergo COVID-19 testing.

Entry to the San Francisco VA Medical Center and Clinics

Only patients with in-person appointments or emergency needs will be allowed into the medical center or community-based outpatient clinics.

All entering SFVAHCS facilities must follow the required precautions below:

  • Wear a face covering or mask. See Face Mask policy below.
  • Participate in checkpoint health screening.
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Perform hand hygiene as directed.
  • Follow directions of VA employees.
  • Keep visits as short as possible.

Visitors who drive patients to appointments will not be permitted to accompany Veterans inside VA facilities unless medically required.

All patients and visitors to SFVAMC must enter through Building 200. Click here for a campus map.

Patients requesting to visit Member Services, Cashier/Billing, or the Travel Office at the SFVAMC will not be allowed in the facility and will be provided with a Member Services handout with instructions.

Valet parking services have been suspended at the San Francisco VA Medical Center until further notice. Self-parking is available. See “Visitor Policy” below for information on entry for outpatient caregivers and inpatient visitors.

Face Mask Policy

  • Everyone is required to wear a face mask or covering in our facilities.
  • Surgical masks will be provided at the screening station to all veterans wearing cloth face coverings entering the facility for a clinical appointment or procedure.
  • Face masks and respirators with exhalation valves do not protect others because they allow unfiltered breath and droplets into the air. Visitors or staff who bring their own masks with exhalation valves must either use a surgical mask or acceptable face covering instead or place a surgical mask or acceptable face covering over their existing mask that covers the exhalation valve. VHA can provide the appropriate mask or face covering.
  • A mask or acceptable face covering should be worn outside when standing in line to enter the building.
  • Every effort should be made to keep masks clean and dry. If they become wet or soiled, masks should be replaced. Perform hand hygiene prior to putting on a mask, periodically while wearing the mask and/or if you touch the mask, and after mask removal.
  • Inpatients:
    • will be provided with a surgical mask to be worn during all clinical encounters. 
    • must wear surgical masks at all times when other people are present. 
    • must wear surgical masks when leaving their rooms.
    • Note: Inpatients with medical or behavioral problems that make wearing a mask difficult or impossible will be exempted from the above guidance.

Screenings

To ensure everyone's safety, all requesting to enter the Medical Center or our community-based outpatient clinics will answer health screening questions before entry.

Visitor Policy

To protect our patients and staff, the following visitor policy is in effect at the Medical Center and at our community-based outpatient clinics.

  • Visitors are not allowed at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, including Buildings 200, 203, 208 (Community Living Center), 200D (Emergency Department), 9 (Hoptel), 10 (Hoptel), and all SFVACHS community-based outpatient clinics. Please see Visitor Policy Exceptions below.
  • The Community Living Center visitor policy is determined by national VA guidelines. Current visitor exceptions are for patients at end of life with estimated prognosis of < 48 hours. One visitor at a time per patient.
  • Veterans without scheduled appointments requesting to visit the Canteen or Retail Store will not be allowed entry.
  • Social workers and other team members will work to support families through patient illness, and utilize video communication options when available.

San Francisco VA Medical Center Visitor Policy Exceptions

We understand there are times when having a visitor or family member present is necessary. For this reason, below are exceptions to our visitor policy.

Inpatient visitors are allowed on a case-by-case basis for:

  • Seriously ill patients (non-COVID-19 or person under investigation patients) who are expected to die within a short period of time (i.e., expected to pass during this hospitalization).
  • Inpatients with physical and/or cognitive conditions, disruptive behavior, altered mental status or developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety) when a companion is necessary to ensure the veteran is able to engage with care. One visitor per patient.
Note: Visiting hours will be determined for inpatients at the discretion of the medical and nursing team based on the individual patient’s situation. Inpatient visitors must enter through Building 203 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays and through Building 200 after 5 p.m. Screeners may require visitors to enter through Building 200 if they are unable to verify a visitor exemption.


Outpatient visitors must enter throught Building 200 and are allowed for:

  • Patients requiring a family member/caregiver to receive discharge or post-op instructions, which cannot be given via telephone. One family member/caregiver allowed during the discharge process. Visitors must be on the daily list of allowed visitors.
  • Outpatients with physical and/or cognitive conditions, disruptive behavior, altered mental status, developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety), or where a companionis key to their stabilization. One visitor per patient.


Visitors must not:

  • have symptoms of illness (fever, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath).
  • be under the age of 18.

Visitor Policy Enforcement

  • All visitors are expected to follow appropriate masking, PPE, and visitor hour requirements.
  • A staff member who discovers violations of our visitor policy can ask visitors to correct procedures for masking, PPE, visiting times, etc.
  • The Unit Director/Manager/Charge Nurse/Supervisor will be notified if there is continued non-adherence to policies.

Medical Emergencies

If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911 immediately. The Emergency Department at the San Francisco VA Medical Center is open 24/7. If you are able, please call 800-733-0502 before visiting the Emergency Department.

Prescriptions

Patients with non-urgent prescription needs should reorder medications online, by phone or by mail. Please allow five to seven business days for delivery. The outpatient pharmacy at the Medical Center remains open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for urgent medication needs.

To refill prescriptions:

  1. Call 1-800-847-3203.
  2. Order online using My HealtheVet at myhealth.va.gov.
  3. Mail your prescription refill request forms to:

    SFVAHCS - Pharmacy 119
    4150 Clement St.
    San Francisco, CA 94121.

 

Patients picking up medications only:

  1. Can call pharmacy first to activate their medications
  2. Will be provided instructions/slip on how to call Pharmacy (415-750-6937)
  3. Can wait in their vehicles until medications are ready.

Shuttles to/from the SFVAMC

Shuttle riders will be screened prior to boarding. Patients must show proof – text, email, postcard - of an appointment. Physical shields, such as sneeze guards which separate the driver from passengers, have been installed in our shuttles. Seating has been staggered to ensure physical distancing.

Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC)

The following safety measures have been implemented at our six community-based outpatient clinics in Downtown San Francisco, San Bruno, Eureka, Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Clearlake until further notice:

  • Walk-in services are limited at this time, and appointments are required for non-urgent needs.
  • Face-to-face visits are being limited, and patients will be seen based on urgency.
  • Virtual care options will be used whenever possible and appropriate.
  • Universal masking policy for everyone at all times within the facility.
  • Mandatory screening and hand sanitizing for everyone entering clinics.
  • Staggered appointment schedules are being implemented to ensure limited congestion in waiting areas.
  • Patients should not arrive more than 30 minutes prior to their appointments to avoid overcrowding in the waiting areas. Patients may be asked to wait in their cars should they arrive earlier.
  • COVID-19 testing is available by appointment only – no walk-ins - to patients scheduled for a surgery or procedure.
  • Appointments for Laboratory services are required at the following clinics:
    • Santa Rosa. 707-569-2300
    • Ukiah. 707-468-7700
    • Clearlake. 707-995-7200

Veterans Crisis Line

If you are a Veteran in crisis, there are specially trained responders ready to help you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by calling 800-273-8255 and Press 1.

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