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Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This page contains COVID-19 information regarding the VA Maryland Health Care System. The safety of our patients and employees continues to be our top priority during the pandemic.

Virtual Care 

As the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state is decreasing, the VA Maryland Health Care System continues to modify the way we deliver care to Veterans to ensure they receive the care they need while keeping everyone safe.  Some of those steps include:

  • Continuing virtual care where accessible and appropriate
  • Resuming face-to-face visits at 75 percent capacity
  • Continuing elective surgeries as clinically appropriate

Staff are available to assist you in scheduling the care you need, whether a face-to-face, video or telephone visit.


COVID-19 Vaccinations & Boosters

Schedule an Appointment for a COVID-19 Vaccination or Booster Shot in Your Local Community:

To find locations where you can receive COVID-19 vaccination or booster near you, visit the CDC Vaccine Finder website at www.vaccinefinder.org, or call 1-800-232-0233. Please make sure to have your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card available to schedule a booster shot and follow the instructions provided. After receiving a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot in your local community, please bring your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to your next scheduled primary care appointment or upload it to your MyHealtheVet account.

Schedule an Appointment for a COVID-19 Vaccination or Booster Shot at the VA Maryland Health Care System:

Call the VA Maryland Health Care System’s Appointment Center Monday-Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 410-605-7333 to schedule an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, the Perry Point VA Medical Center or the Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic.

COVID-19 Second Booster Vaccinations

The VA and community retail pharmacies are now offering the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine second boosters. This decision follows the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement authorizing a second booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations to offer the booster shots. As with vaccines for other diseases, people are best protected against infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 when they stay up to date with vaccinations.

The VA and community retail pharmacies are now accepting appointments for the second COVID-19 booster shot according to the following CDC guidance:

  1. A second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
  2. A second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to individuals 12 years of age and older with certain kinds of immune compromise at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. 
  3. A second booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered at least 4 months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years of age and older with certain kinds of immune compromise.
  4. A second booster dose may be administered with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months after receipt of a booster dose for any person who had Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 for both their initial vaccine and their booster dose.

Emergency and Urgent Care

The Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and the Urgent Care Clinic at the Perry Point VA Medical Center remain open for ill patients so they can be seen and treated in a timely manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crowding the Emergency Department and Urgent Care Clinic can cause conditions for exposure to COVID-19. Minimize your risk by not coming to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care Clinic if you are not sick.

The Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the Urgent Care Clinic at the Perry Point VA Medical Center is open Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


What Veteran Patients Need to Know about COVID-19 Treatments

If you have any of the following:

  1. A positive COVID-19 test from any testing site (VA or non-VA) or home test (take a picture of test to share with provider).
  2. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (cold symptoms, fever, fatigue etc.).
  3. You were in close contact with someone known to have a COVID-19 infection.
  1. You should call your Primary Care Provider/Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT).
  2. You can also call the Telephone Care Line for the VA Maryland Health Care System 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-865-2441
  3. VA also offers urgent care services to eligible Veterans at in-network urgent care clinics that are close to where you live and work. Follow these simple steps to find and use an in-network urgent care clinic near you:
  • Call VA’s Urgent Care Program to verify your eligibility.
  • Visit www.va.gov/find-locations and click on the link for “VA-approved urgent care locations and pharmacies” or call VA’s Office of Community Care at 877-881-7618.
  • When you arrive at the urgent care clinic, confirm that the provider is an in-network urgent care provider.
  • The provider will call 833-483-8669 to confirm you are eligible for the urgent care benefit.
  • If you need assistance, call 866-620-2071.

The Primary Care Provider/PACT team member will call you back to determine your care needs, provide instructions and make referrals to the appropriate support services. This may include discussion of anti-viral treatments, a referral to the Infectious Diseases Clinic, and/or a referral for home-based monitoring.

For most people, treatment will be supportive care and monitoring of symptoms alone. This includes taking your temperature and oxygen level daily or when there is any change in condition. The provider may order a thermometer and/or pulse oximeter for home use.  However, there are some COVID-19 specific treatments now available!

 

For those who are at higher risk for severe infection (older than 65 years of age, medical problems, obesity, immunocompromised), oral anti-viral treatments (paxlovid, molnupiravir) and an intravenous infusion of monoclonal antibodies (sotrovimab) are available.  These treatments have been shown to decrease the chance of progression to serious illness and hospitalization. In consultation with the Infectious Diseases Clinic, your provider will determine the best treatment options if you are eligible. 

These treatments are non-FDA approved medications that have been authorized under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  Visit the following links for a copy of the EUA fact sheet that contains information on these therapies:

Paxlovid
Fact Sheet for Patients and Caregivers Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Paxlovid (fda.gov)

Molnupiravir
Fact Sheet for Patients and Caregivers Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Of Molnupiravir (fda.gov)

Sotrovimab
Fact Sheet for Patients and Caregivers Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Sotrovimab (fda.gov)

 

It’s never too late to get vaccinated or boosted! If you haven’t received your COVID vaccine or booster yet, please call the Appointment Center for the VA Maryland Health Care System at 410-605-7333 Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to schedule an appointment today!  Veterans 18 years and older are eligible for boosters.  If it’s been at least 6 months since your last vaccine, inquire about a booster today!

Also, if you are immunocompromised or cannot receive the vaccine due to a serious reaction, please talk to your doctor about eligibility for Evusheld (long-acting monoclonal antibody injection).

Fact Sheet for Patients and Caregivers Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of EVUSHELD™ (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab)  (fda.gov)

COVID-19 Testing

While the rates of COVID-19 in Maryland are decreasing, transmission is still high, and there may be increased wait times for testing.  Here’s what you can do:

  • Consider obtaining a home testing kit from your local health department, US Postal Service, local pharmacy or on-line distributor
  • Presume that if you have symptoms, you likely have COVID-19 and should take the steps in the CDC guidance
  • If you have no symptoms, but have been in close contact with (within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes) someone who has COVID-19, review guidance below:
    • Fully vaccinated people should get tested either at home or at one of hundreds of testing sites in Maryland within five to seven days of their exposure and wear a mask indoors or in public for 14 days following exposure, or until their test is negative
    • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people should stay home for 14 days after the last contact with a person who has COVID-19
    • For 10 days, anyone who was exposed should watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19
      • If symptoms develop, follow the guidance listed here
      • If no symptoms develop, get tested at least 5 days after last close contact and continue to wear a mask around others until 10 days after the last close contact with someone with COVID-19

Note: The VA Maryland Health Care System is currently offering COVID-19 testing only to hospitalized patients and those Veterans who have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you do not have symptoms, but you want to be tested for COVID-19, please visit one of the hundreds of COVID testing sites in Maryland or register for your FREE home test kit on the US Postal Service website.  The Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center should be used for symptomatic and ill patients so they can be seen and treated in a timely manner. Crowding the Emergency Department can create conditions for exposure.  Minimize your risk by not coming to the Emergency Department if you are not sick!

If you at any time you have any questions regarding an illness, your medications, or any health concern, please don’t hesitate to call our Telephone Care Line. Nurses are available to speak with you 24/7 at 1-800-865-2441. If you have an emergency, call 911.

Thank you for your cooperation and working together to combat COVID.

Get free at-home COVID-19 tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order #4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

Order your tests now so you have them when you need them.

Order Free At-Home Tests

If you need a COVID-⁠19 test now, please see other testing resources for free testing locations in your area.


Telephone Care Line & Veteran Crisis Line

As a reminder, Veterans needing medical advice can contact the Telephone Care Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-865-2441 (press 1).

Scheduled Clinic Appointments

If you will be visiting a VA Maryland Health Care System facility for a scheduled clinic appointment or emergency or urgent care visit, you will find safety measures in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19. 

Be Prepared for Your Visit:

Universal Masking

Everyone is required to wear a face mask while inside a VA Maryland Health Care System facility. Neck gators and exhaust valve masks are not acceptable face coverings, and visitors wearing these items will be provided a medical mask to wear instead. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed to enter or will be asked to leave if they do not wear a mask. Patients arriving for a scheduled clinic appointment or visiting the Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center or the Urgent Care Clinic at the Perry Point VA Medical Center,  will be given a mask if they do not have one. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and can safely delay your visit, please contact your provider to reschedule. Otherwise, please let your provider know ahead of your visit if you have symptoms or were recently exposed to a person with COVID-19.

Facility Telephone Numbers
• Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-901-4077
• Eastern Baltimore County VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-605-7000, ext. 51101
• Fort Meade VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-305-5304
• Glen Burnie VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-590-4153
• Loch Raven VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic – 410-605-7000, ext. 51101
• Perry Point VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic – 410-642-2511, ext. 26515
• Pocomoke VA Outpatient Clinic – 410-957-6930

COVID-19 Screening

For the safety of our Veteran patients, employees, volunteers and visitors, effective August 16, 2021, the VA Maryland Health Care System will reinstate COVID-19 screenings for anyone entering any of its facilities. To make this process more efficient we will use the Screen Pass app. Screen pass allows anyone entering our facilities to use their smartphones to answer COVID-19 screening questions before arriving at the medical center.

Before coming to a VA Maryland Health Care System facility, you can text the word ‘Screen’ to 53079 or visit www.va.gov/covid19screen to answer the screening questions. When you arrive at the facility, show your phone at the door.

Screeners will also be available to ask the screening questions for those who may not be familiar with Screen Pass.

Thank you for helping us protect you and others during this time.

In the past 48 hours, have you had any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • NEW or worsening cough
  • NEW or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • I would delete “fatigue” because it is too vague
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Have you recently been in contact with, or do you currently reside with:

  • A person DIAGNOSED with COVID-19 in the last 10-days
  • A person under investigation (PUI) for infection with COVID-19in the last 10-days
  • A person who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, but not yet tested

Do you have any COVID-19 tests which are pending (not yet resulted)


If you answered “YES” to any of the above please DELAY your visit.

If you had an appointment today, call your provider to let them know about your symptoms or exposure.

Contact your primary care provider for additional evaluation and testing.

Telephone Care Line: 800-865-2441

If you are feeling seriously unwell, go to your nearest Emergency Department or call 911

For additional information, please refer to the CDC Handout: 10 Things You Can Do to Manage Your COVID-19 Symptoms at Home

Visitor Guidance

Acute Care Units:

  • 1-2 visitors per day  
  • Visitation must occur between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.
    • Visitors may be asked to shorten visitation at the discretion of the clinical team if visitation will impede patient care
    • No overnight visitation
  • Visitors must restrict their movement to and from the patient’s room
  • Visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while inside a VA facility
    • Gators and exhaust valve masks are NOT acceptable face-coverings
  • Visitors may be offered disposable eye protection to wear in the patient’s room
  • Visitors under the age of 12 are NOT permitted except on a case-by-case basis
  • All visitors are subject to COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening by the clinical team prior to visitation
  • Visitation to a patient with acute COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis with Infection Control review

Intensive Care Units:

  • 1-2 visitors per day  
  • Visitation must occur between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.
    • Visitors may be asked to shorten visitation at the discretion of the clinical team if visitation will impede patient care
    • Visitation should be respectful of patient rest periods to allow for recuperation and healing
    • No overnight visitation
  • Visitors must restrict their movement to and from the patient’s room
  • Visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while inside a VA facility
    • Gators and exhaust valve masks are NOT acceptable face-coverings
  • Visitors may be offered disposable eye protection to wear in the patient’s room
  • Visitors under the age of 12 are NOT permitted except on a case-by-case basis
  • All visitors are subject to COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening by the clinical team prior to visitation
  • Visitation to a patient with acute COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis with Infection Control review

Emergency Department

  • 1-2 visitors per day
  • Visitation to patients awaiting admission (boarders) will follow Acute Care visiting hours (between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.)
    • Visitors may be asked to shorten visitation at the discretion of the clinical team if visitation impedes patient care
    • No overnight visitation
  • Visitors must restrict their movement to and from the patient’s room
  • Visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while inside a VA facility
    • Gators and exhaust valve masks are NOT acceptable face-coverings
  • Visitors may be offered disposable eye protection to wear in the patient’s room
  • Visitors under the age of 12 are NOT permitted except on a case-by-case basis
  • All visitors are subject to COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening by the clinical team prior to visitation

Community Living Center (CLC) Units

Since visitor restrictions change on a regular basis for all Community Living Center units, family members and friends of CLC residents are asked to contact their unit social worker for the latest visitor guidelines.

All visitors are subject to COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening

Prescriptions

To limit the exposure of COVID-19, Pharmacy is continuing to offer new and renewal prescriptions through mail order only, including express and overnight delivery. The Outpatient Pharmacies at the Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers will only honor emergent prescription needs for in-person pick up. All other medications and supplies will be mailed.

Veterans have the following options to refill their prescriptions:
• Call the Prescription Refill Line at 410-605-7395. After hearing the greeting, enter your full nine-digit Social Security number followed by the “#” sign. Next, press option “2” for Pharmacy Information, and then press option “1” to order prescription refills.
• Complete and sign the refill request slip you received with your prescription and use the mailing label that was included to send it in to one of our two pharmacies.
• Submit a refill request through My HealtheVet at www.myhealth.va.gov.

If you have no remaining refills, call the Prescription Refill Line at 410-605-7395. After hearing the greeting, enter your full nine-digit Social Security number followed by the “#” sign. Next, press option “2” for Pharmacy Information, and then press option “8” to talk to a Pharmacy representative.

Important Telephone Numbers

Appointment Center: To schedule, change, cancel or confirm a clinic appointment, contact the Appointment Center at 410-605-7333 Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Medical Emergencies:  If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911 immediately.

Prescriptions: To request a prescription refill, check on the status of your prescription or to speak to a pharmacy staff member, call 410-605-7395.

Telephone Care Line: If you need medical advice, call the Telephone Care Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-865-2441, press 1

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 at 800-273-8255, press 1.

Stay Informed

To receive the latest COVID-19 information from the VA Maryland Health Care System, enroll for our E-News Subscription Service. To enroll, visit www.maryland.va.gov and enter your email address under “Subscribe to Receive Email Updates” on our homepage.

You can also receive COVID-19-updates by calling our VA Maryland Health Care System COVID-19 Information Line at 410-605-7384. (This is a recording only and does not accept voicemails.)

For the latest guidance from VA about the Coronavirus, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus