The VA Maine Healthcare System is making changes in its operations to deal with the new coronavirus. Many of the changes echo those made by other major healthcare providers in Maine.
The changes include postponing non-urgent elective surgeries, and reviewing visits with health care providers to see if they can be done via a video link or a phone call.
If neither is an option, the visit will be delayed for at least 60 days, though the VA says it will check with such patients to see if they need a prescription refill, or have some other medical concern that requires an earlier visit.
Beginning Monday, patients arriving at the VA Emergency Department will first be examined in an external triage unit, a tent outside the Emergency Department.
Also beginning Monday, patients who medical professionals determine need a coronavirus test, will be able to be tested at a drive-up location on the Togus campus. The VA says at this time, that is the only such test location. When the testing kits become available, they plan to offer testing in Portland, Lewiston and Bangor as well.
Visitors are being banned from "care facilities" on the Togus campus and, with a few exceptions, from its nursing home as well.
The VA says its pharmacy is switching to an all-mail system. Prescriptions can be called in or mailed, and refills can be ordered online. The VA expects that medications will take 7-10 days to arrive.
You can read more about the VA Maine Healthcare System and its new operations changes here.
This story was updated March 23, 2020 at 10:01 a.m. ET.