Rising COVID-19 cases force Salisbury VA to curtail non-emergency procedures, activate surge plan

Published 2:09 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

SALISBURY — The Salisbury VA says a rising number of COVID-19 positives among veterans and staff will force it to curtail non-emergency procedures and activate a plan to handle more acute care patients.

The rise in positive staff members, in particular, has made it difficult to provide all services, a news release said. Veterans Affairs data show 139 Salisbury VA employees have active cases of COVID-19. Data show 753 active veteran cases. An additional 26 people are veterans and employees of the Salisbury VA.

“This latest variant certainly has put a strain on resources, particularly when it comes to available staff,” Chief of Staff Dr. Randall Gehle said in a Thursday news release. “We’ve dealt with a high patient census before and have experience implementing a surge plan, but as we shift resources to acute care, it does affect other services.”

Veterans may be asked to switch in-person appointments to virtual or telephone ones, a news release said.

The Salisbury VA has facilities in Charlotte and Kernersville in addition to Rowan County. Services affected by the just-announced changes reflect that. Affected services are as follows:

• Elective operating room cases and gastroenterology procedures.

• Cardiac catheterization lab procedures at the Kernersville VA Health Care Center.

• Outpatient elective procedures that require pre-procedure testing will be canceled and rescheduled.

• Routine labs will be paused.

• Primary care at the Charlotte Community-Based Outpatient Clinic will convert all appointments to virtual.

In addition to stopping a number of procedures, the Salisbury VA will activate a surge plan to handle an increased number of patients. The plan will add acute care bed capacity, a news release said.

“It is a challenging time, for sure,” said Salisbury VA Director Joseph Vaughn. “We’ve dealt with surges like this before. We have a plan in place and I trust that our staff will rise to the challenge and deliver the care our Veterans have come to expect.”

About Josh Bergeron

Josh Bergeron is the editor of the Salisbury Post, a position he's held since December 2018. He's worked as an editor and reporter for newspapers in Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina, including three years as the Post's county government and politics reporter. He's a graduate of LSU and an avid fan of LSU sports teams. Email him at josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com.

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