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What you need to know

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.

Visitor policy

The Mather VA Medical Center, Martinez VA Outpatient Center, and our community-based outpatient clinics have the following inpatient and outpatient visitation policies in place. 

  • Outpatient: Visitors are not permitted to accompany patients within our facilities unless essential to medical care and under exceptional circumstances. Please review the outpatient visitor exceptions below. 

  • Inpatient: Visitors will be allowed on a case-by-case basis. See below for exceptions. 

Visitor policy exceptions

We recognize that having a visitor or family member present is necessary on rare situations. Visitors for patients with COVID-19, on the other hand, are only authorized under rare circumstances.

Visitation exceptions and guidelines

Acute Care

Two visitors are allowed per day for one patient between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Two hours for each visitor or four hours with two visitors together are permitted to visit with restrictions based on the following key circumstances:

  • End-of-life
  • Imminent death
  • Compassionate care/hospice care
  • Therapeutic needs

Visitors must enter through the Emergency Department and will receive a white wrist band that must be worn at all times inside the medical center.  Visitors may be required to undergo COVID-19 Binax testing at the Emergency Department and receive a negative result prior to entry. COVID-19 safety measures may change as needed.

Please avoid bringing children under 12 years old.  Visitors 18 years or older are allowed for COVID-19 isolation patients. Exceptions for visitors under 18 years of age for COVID-19 isolation patients may be made on a case-by-case basis. 

Telephone or video calls are encouraged.


Veterans are allowed to bring family members and/or companions, including children to their outpatient appointments. Family members and/or companions must follow facility policy such as masking and screening. Masking is exempt for children 2 and younger.  It is encouraged to have the minimum number of visitors for the minimum amount of time in waiting areas. 

Inpatients with COVID-19

Visitation requests will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis for patients who are seriously ill and expected to die imminently (i.e., expected to pass during current hospitalization). Approved visitors will be required to wear full personal protective equipment.  

The Community Living Center

The Community Living Center (CLC), Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care (CREC) visitor policy is determined by national VA and VISN21 guidelines. The visitations in the CLC/CREC may be subject to prevailing COVID status at the time and subject to change to maintain safety of our Veterans, staff and visitors.  Compassionate visits for actively dying Veterans in the CLC/CREC may be made on a case-by-case basis.  All visits must be prescheduled and coordinated with the CLC/CREC attending interdisciplinary team.

The Mather VA Medical Center, Martinez VA Outpatient Center, and our community-based outpatient clinics have the following inpatient and outpatient visitation policies in place. 

  • Outpatient: Visitors are not permitted to accompany patients within our facilities unless essential to medical care and under exceptional circumstances. Please review the outpatient visitor exceptions below. 

  • Inpatient: Visitors will be allowed on a case-by-case basis. See below for exceptions. 

Outpatient Visitation Exceptions 

Visitors are not allowed. All visitors should wait in alternate locations while the patient is in the facility.   

One visitor may be permitted to visit with patients who meet the following criteria: 

  • For those with physical and/or cognitive conditions, communication barriers, altered mental status, developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety) 

  • When a companion is a key to stabilization. 

Guidelines for all visitor exceptions 

Visitors must not:  

  • Have symptoms of illness (fever, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath) 

  • Have a sick person in their household 

  • Masks must be worn at all times.   

  • Maintain at least three feet of distance from others. 

  • Use hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently. 

  • Undergo screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure before entry. 

  • A staff member who detects infractions of our visitor policy may request that visitors follow proper protocols for masking, personal protective equipment, visiting times, and so on. 

If visitors do not adhere to these policies, the Unit Director, Manager, Charge Nurse, or Supervisor will be alerted. 

Bringing children to visit
Children of all ages can accompany patients at our medical center. For infection-control and safety reasons, however, children under the age of 18 are not allowed to visit certain specialty-care units.  All children under the age of 18 must be directly supervised by an adult. Children's bedside visits are limited to 15 minutes.  Children 12 years and older are allowed to visit in acute care.  Exceptions for visitors under 18 years of age for COVID-19 isolation patients may be made on a case-by-case basis. Children ages two and above must wear a facemask.

Visiting church members
If you’re a member of the religious community, we encourage you to visit patients who belong to your church or religious group. However, you’re not allowed to do general visitation by going from bed to bed, ward to ward, or unit to unit. 

Bringing food
You may bring small amounts of candy, fruit, and other food items if the nursing staff says they are appropriate for a patient's diet. You may not bring fresh fruit and flowers to patients who are receiving critical care, and you can’t eat or drink in those units.

Washing hands
You must follow hand-hygiene policy guidelines, which require you to practice good hand hygiene when you enter and exit patient rooms, and at other times as directed by staff.

Following infection-control guidelines
You must follow guidelines on infection-control signs and report to the nurses' station for instructions before you enter a patient's room.

Staying home if you are ill
If you have a communicable disease, you won't be allowed to visit patients inside the medical center. Refrain from coming to visit if a household member is sick. 

Prohibited items
You're not allowed to bring weapons, cameras, or other prohibited items into the medical center, except when you're conducting official business authorized by the Director or their designee. If you have questions about what qualifies as official business, please contact the facility's Director.

Giving privacy
Our staff may ask you to leave the room when they’re caring for patients. If a staff member asks you to leave a patient's room, you may continue your visit in the day room, waiting area, or any other public area of the facility.

Visiting patients in restraints
In general, you won't be allowed to visit patients who are in restraints. If the treatment team decides that your visit could have a positive effect on the patient, then you may have a supervised visit with the patient when a staff member removes the restraints. Our staff will document how the patient responds to you and other visitors. 

Visiting psychiatric units with children
Children under the age of 18 may visit patients in psychiatric units with the doctor’s permission.

Limiting your visit
Our doctors may limit, restrict, or deny visits for the medical well-being of a patient.  We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. 

Prohibited items
You can't bring weapons, alcohol, or illegal drugs into the building.  Because the VA medical center is federal property, all visitors and bags may be searched.

Entry to the Mather/Martinez Campuses and Clinics

Entering VA NorCal facilities

All entering VA NorCal facilities must follow the required precautions below:

  • Wear a face covering or mask
  • Participate in checkpoint health screening
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from others
  • Follow directions of VA employees
  • Keep visits as short as possible.


Our facilities are staffed by VA Police or contract security guards. Officers provide 24-hour patrols of our facilities and parking lots.  For general police assistance, please call 916-843-5401 or 925-372-2345. Report all suspicious or criminal activity, vehicle accidents, and personal property losses to the VA Police as soon as possible.

VA facilities are either located on, or considered to be on, federal property and therefore all persons and bags are subject to search.  In addition, no weapons, alcohol, or illegal drugs are permitted.

Face Mask Policy

Face mask policy details

  • 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.


Health screening

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. To expedite the in-person screening process, use our COVID-19 Screening Tool.

Medical emergencies

Medical or mental health emergency

If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911 immediately. The Emergency Department at the Sacramento VA Medical Center is open 24/7. If you are able, please call 800-382-8387 before visiting the Emergency Department.


How to refill prescriptions

Patients with non-urgent prescription needs should reorder medications online or by phone. Please allow up to 10 business days for delivery. The outpatient pharmacies at the Sacramento and Martinez campuses remain open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for urgent medication needs.

To refill prescriptions:

  1. Call 866-600-8279 . (Available 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.)
    • Have your full nine-digit Social Security Number
    • Have the prescription number(s) from your most recent prescription bottle or package
    • Be sure we have your correct address and phone number
    • Have a pen and paper ready to write down information
  2. Order prescriptions online using MyHealtheVet website.
  3. Use VA's new Rx Refill mobile app.
  4. Chat with Pharmacy using VA Health Chat app.

Stay home and phone

Consider virtual care options

We are continuing to see patients in person for appointments. However, we are encouraging Veterans to use our virtual care options (Telehealth, VA Video Connect) for specialty care, primary care and mental health services whenever possible. Patients who need an in-person appointment can contact their care team.

If you are having a life-threatening emergency, please call 911. The Emergency Department at the Mather VA Medical Center is open 24/7. 

You can also chat with Urgent Care or schedule an appointment using VA Health Chat app.


What you need to know for your appointments

Patients with scheduled in-person appointments should arrive no earlier than 15 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.


Elective surgeries and procedures

Elective surgeries and procedures are being scheduled based on bed, staff and PPE availability. 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.

Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC)

CBOC safety measures

The following safety measures have been implemented at our community-based outpatient clinics in Chico, Fairfield, Mare Island, McClellan, Oakland, Redding, Sierra Foothills, Oakland Twenty First Street Clinic, Yreka and Yuba City until further notice:

  • Universal masking policy for everyone at all times within facilities.
  • Mandatory screening for everyone entering clinics.
  • 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.


Shuttle passengers are screened prior to boarding. Patients who have not been screened at the hospital or CBOC are asked the questions posted in all shuttles. Every shuttle passenger must wear a mask while on board. Patients have space between seating to comply with social distancing.