COVID-19

News & Resources 

A Message From PVA Executive Director Carl Blake

Our goal is to make sure that you as our members and the individuals and veterans that we serve have the information you need and the assistance you need, when you need it. WATCH NOW

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Paralyzed Veterans of America is committed to the health and well-being of our members, caregivers, staff, community and all veterans. 

Dr. Stephen Yerkovich, Chief of Medical Services at PVA, wants you to be aware that COVID-19 is a serious health risk to society, especially older adults and people with serious medical conditions such as spinal cord injury/disease, lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes. On March 16th, the White House developed a 15 Days to Slow the Spread initiative. All individuals are encouraged to practice social distancing. This effort can help slow the spread of the COVID-19. PVA wants our veterans, staff, and everyone in our communities to stay safe! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidelines for prevention that include:

  • Keep space between yourself and others. Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid touching surfaces in public places as much as possible.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid all non-essential air and mass transit travel. Avoid all cruise travel.
  • Stay home as much as possible.

More information on COVID-19 and CDC-recommended precautions is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html.
 

PVA’s Response

Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and welfare of our members and staff, many of our National Service Officers (NSOs) working at VA Spinal Cord Injury Centers, VA Medical Centers, and VA Regional Offices are working remotely.

We remain deeply committed to continuing to provide the services our members depend on. During this time, our NSOs remain available to assist you with your health care and benefit needs and can be reached by calling your local National Service Office. Phone lines and email are consistently monitored throughout the day to address your needs. To find the contact information for your NSO, please visit: https://pva.org/find-support/national-service-office/.

PVA Member Guidance

The spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D) population is one of VA’s most susceptible populations to the novel corona virus. All VA SCI/D Centers will adopt a “no visitor” stance, meaning no outside visitors will be permitted to see inpatients. Exceptions will be when veterans are in their last stages of life or any other extenuating circumstance.

Routine SCI/D admissions including annual examinations and respite will be rescheduled. If you are experiencing difficulty gaining access to your SCI/D team or need acute admission and are denied, please contact one of our service officers near you.

Outpatient clinics are only accepting urgent appointments. Non-urgent, routine appointments are being rescheduled to a later date or scheduled as a telehealth appointment when feasible.

If you have symptoms, or think you may have come in contact with the corona virus, contact your provider before visiting your local VA medical center or doctor’s office.

Contact your local VA for up to date information as this continues to evolve.

Information on the novel corona virus can be found at this link https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/

Information on the visitor policy for SCI can be found here https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5400

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do I do if I get sick and need to be admitted into an SCI/D Center? 
    If you believe you need admission to an SCI/D Center, contact your SCI/D care team by calling them or sending a secure message through MyHealtheVet. If you experience a medical emergency, call 911.

  • What do I do if I get sick? 
    Contact your SCI/D care team by calling them or sending a secure message through MyHealtheVet.

  • What do I do if I think I might have the corona virus?
    If you have a fever, cough, flu-like symptoms, or think you may have come in contact with the corona virus, contact your local VA Medical Center or doctor's office prior to visiting.

  • What do I do if the SCI/D Center says that they won't admit me as a patient?
    At this time, SCI/D Centers are limiting admission to new injuries and emergent care. Telehealth appointments are offered as an alternative when appropriate. If you feel telehealth is inadequate in meeting your care needs, contact your local PVA Service Officer.

  • What do I do if I can't get urgent care in my community?
    Visit one of the nearest VA hospitals, clinics, or community-based outpatient clinics.
If you have a specific question, please contact us at 1-800-424-8200 or reach out to your local PVA Service Officer.   

For more answers to FAQs from the VA, visit: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions/
 

Combatting Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness During COVID-19 


Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) wants our veterans and their caregivers to overcome loneliness during this time of social distancing.

While sheltering in place helps us stop the spread of COVID-19, the decreased social engagement and lessening of medical visits can lead to feelings of helplessness, isolation, and loneliness. For those living with mental health issues and chronic diseases, we may see a worsening of symptoms. There are things we can do to take care of ourselves and help #BeThere for others. If you are able, try to spend a little time outdoors each day, even if just for a few minutes on your front porch, as there are many benefits to being outside. Keep your mind occupied and take a break from the news by working on free coursework, listening to audiobooks, watching virtual concerts, plays, & tours of museums, or calling or writing friends and loved ones. Don’t have internet access? For the next two months, Comcast is providing free internet service for disabled veterans.

If you do find yourself struggling with increased anxiety, depression or other psychological symptoms, you can call or text mental health professionals at Psychological Health Center of Excellence Psychological Recourse Center, call or chat with peers at Veterans 4 Warriors, or use some of the self-help strategies at Make the Connection. If you need help right away, we encourage you to call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, and press "1" if you are a veteran, texting 838255, or chatting via their website.

You can also view the VA's latest on information on maintaining your mental health here:  https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus/

RESOURCE CENTER

 
  • Avoiding Disability-Based Discrimination in Treatment - This document from organizations with expertise in federal disability rights laws provides a more detailed explanation of how the requirements set forth in the HHS Bulletin would apply and how states and health care providers can take steps to modify policies and practices to avoid disability discrimination.

  • C&P Examination Alternatives During Pandemic - The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is providing information about utilizing alternatives to in-person Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic to support social distancing and the safety and health of Veterans and clinicians.  VBA will continue to complete as many examinations as possible using virtual means that do not involve a face-to-face examination. 

  • Caregiver Support Program Information for Caregivers During COVID-19 - The CSP is here to provide support to you during this uncertain time. Your local Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC) can link you to important resources and services that are available to you, as a caregiver, and to the Veteran.

  • VA Food Insecurity Resources - If you lack of access to enough food for a healthy lifestyle.This page provides resources to promote food security. 

  • WATCH: Dr. Richard Stone, VHA Executive in Charge: Veterans, let’s lead the way in social distancing

  • Learn common warning signs of Autonomic Dysreflexia and ways to treat it. We  encourage our members to print and keep this card handy in the event they are taken to a community hospital or VA hospital that doesn't have an SCI unit during this pandemic.  Download the AD Wallet Card

  • VA expands virtual services to support Veterans amid regional office closures due to COVID-19 pandemic Learn more.

  • Stimulus Checks - learn more about what veterans, people in uniform, and their families know about economic stimulus packages and how they are paid.

  • Wheelchair and Assistive Technology Users - Learn more about precautions for COVID-19. Read more.

  • Learn how you can manage and cope with the stress of COVID-19 direct from PVA's Medical Services team. Watch now.

  •  You can prevent COVID-19 exposure or transmission by Accessing VA Care From Home

  • Learn more about student loan deferment for you or your family with the helpful FAQs from studentaid.gov

  • The VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program released guidance to all Regional Offices that policy will be adjusted to accept a typed signature, which will apply to any form that requires a participant’s signature. All forms are available in PDF format at www.va.gov/vaforms.

  • President Trump signed into law S. 3503, March 21, which will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Learn more

  • How to Access VA Urgent Care - Use VA's urgent care benefit to treat minor injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening, such as colds, strep throat, sprained muscles, infections and more. Learn more

  • Veterans and Family member affected by the COVID-19 (CORONA VIRUS), that have a VBA benefit debt and need temporary financial relief, please contact the VA Debt Management Center at
    1-800-827-0648 to request assistance.

  • Comcast is offering free internet services for low-income Veterans. To check eligibility and sign up, applicants can visit  www.internetessentials.com