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South Texas VA Has Most COVID-19 Inpatients Out Of Entire VA Health System

Wendy Rigby | Texas Public Radio

The South Texas Veterans Healthcare System is putting a pause on reopening after a surge of patients sought treatment for COVID-19.

Department of Veterans Affairs officials announced Friday that 18 COVID-positive veterans have been admitted to Audie Murphy Memorial, the highest number of COVID inpatients in the VA health care system nationwide. They’re all currently in stable condition. 

VA officials say they’re collaborating with public health authorities to identify and monitor all veterans and staff who may have had significant contact with the ill veterans.

In May, the South Texas VA was chosen as a test site for a phased reopening of health care services. But due to COVID-19 infection trends in San Antonio and the increase in hospitalizations, medical center leaders have suspended the expansion of services until further notice.   

“Within the last week we’ve seen an increase of patients being treated for COVID-19,” said Medical Center Director/CEO, Christopher Sandles. “The safety of veterans and staff is our highest priority.  I’m urging the San Antonio community to take extra precautions in order to limit the exposure risk to our veterans, employees, and visitors.”

For the time being, the system will rely more heavily on virtual care offerings like telehealth, phone consults and wellness checks. 

Campuses within the South Texas VA System require all entrants to wear face masks and undergo a coronavirus pre-screening. 

A temporary “no visitor” policy is still in effect for the Kerrville and San Antonio Community Living Centers, Spinal Cord Injury Unit, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Domiciliary and Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program. The only exceptions are in compassionate cases, when veterans are in their last stages of life in hospice.

More information for veterans is here: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus

Carson Frame can be reached at Carson@TPR.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame.

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Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio

Carson graduated from the University of Southern Florida in 2011 with a B.A. in English and International Studies, and earned a Master's degree in Journalism from New York University in 2017. Prior to coming to San Antonio, she worked as a reporter for the WMNF 88.5 FM Evening News in 2008. Since then, she's written for Ms. Magazine, Chronogram, Souciant, and Bedford+Bowery, among others. Carson has also done audio work for the podcasts Death, Sex & Money (WNYC) and Memory Motel (Listening Booth Media).