January 2022 VA NorCal Updates

01/05: New VA NorCal Inpatient/Outpatient Visitor Policy
01/10: New App to Easily Chat with VA Coming on January 12th

New App to Easily Chat with VA Coming on January 12th

We’re excited to announce that VA is testing a new way for you to quickly get answers to your health questions. Starting January 12, VA Health Chat will be available to Veterans who receive their health care at your VA facility. Here is what you need to know:

VA Health Chat is easy to access and use. VA Health Chat is available on the VA App Store and the VA Launchpad app beginning January 12 and will be available for download in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store around January 12. Chat hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Pacific Time.

Ask your health questions to a real person. You are not talking to a robot. Instead, in as little as 60 seconds, VA Health Chat connects you with a VA Health Care Team member who can give medical advice, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and more.

VA Health Chat is secure. To chat with a VA Health Care Team member, you will need to use your VA credentials: A My HealtheVet premium account User ID and password, DS Logon, or ID.me. For more information on creating VA credentials, click here.

VA Health Chat is care that fits in with your schedule. We look forward to introducing you to VA Health Chat on January 12. To learn more, visit the VA App Store.

New VA NorCal Inpatient/Outpatient Visitor Policy

The following visitor policy is in effect at the Mather VA Medical Center, Martinez VA Outpatient Center and our community-based outpatient clinics to protect our patients and employees.

  • Visitors must not:
  • Have symptoms of illness (fever, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath).
  • Have a sick person in their household.
  • Be under 18 years old (unless receiving a COVID-19 vaccine under the SAVE LIVES Act or in rare situations).
  • Masks must be worn at all times.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from others.
  • Use hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently.
  • Undergo screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure before entry.
  • Those without scheduled appointments requesting to visit the Canteen or Retail Store only will not be allowed entry.
  • A staff member who discovers violations of our visitor policy can ask visitors to correct procedures for masking, person protective equipment, visiting times, etc.
  • The Unit Director/Manager/Charge Nurse/Supervisor will be notified if visitors do not adhere to policies.
  • The Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care visitor policy is determined by national VA guidelines. Current visitor exceptions are for patients at the end of life with an estimated prognosis of < 48 hours.

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. However, visitors for inpatients with COVID-19 will not allowed except in rare situations.

Inpatient Visitation Exceptions

Please understand that the care team may need to limit your time with your loved one. Only two visitors at a time and for no more than one hour.

Visitors must be on the daily visitor list and will be allowed on a case-by-case basis for inpatients:

  • Without COVID-19 who have physical and/or cognitive conditions, communication barriers, altered mental status, or developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety).
  • Requiring a companion to adequately communicate, understand, and engage with care.
  • Who are seriously ill without COVID-19 and expected to die imminently (i.e., expected to pass during current hospitalization).
  • Requiring a family member/caregiver to receive discharge or post-op instructions when they cannot be given via telephone. One family member/caregiver will be allowed during the discharge process.

Outpatient Visitation Exceptions

One visitor allowed per patient.

Outpatient visitors are allowed:

  • For those with physical and/or cognitive conditions, communication barriers, altered mental status, developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety).
  • When a companion is key to stabilization.
  • When a patient cannot find another option for childcare. In these situations, patients may bring their children to an outpatient appointment. Children ages two and older must test negative for COVID-19 and wear masks. Small masks for children are available at screening stations. Children must be directly supervised at all times.