12/07/2017 07:07 PM EST

WASHINGTON — Influenza activity is increasing at VA Portland Health Care System and in the greater Portland area. Therefore, we are implementing Visitor Restrictions now.

Restrictions include:
1. Only patients and immediate family members should visit the facility.
2. Children under the age of 12 should not enter the facility.
3. Visitors with symptoms should delay their visit. Symptoms include: fever/chills, runny nose, muscle aches, sore throat, coughing, and sneezing.
4. Patients with symptoms should delay non-urgent clinical appointments. If that’s not possible, patients must wear a mask while in the facility.
5. Masks are available at the entrances of our facilities; staff may offer masks to visitors – please take one if offered.

Visitor Restriction signs will be posted at all entrances to notify visitors of these restrictions. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we try to keep our most vulnerable Veterans safe from Flu.



Statement by Secretary Shulkin – Homeless Funding

12/06/2017 05:53 PM EST

WASHINGTON — Statement by Secretary Shulkin – Homeless Funding
There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs. We will not be shifting any homeless program money to the Choice program. The President has increased VA homeless program funding by $66 million in his fiscal year 2018 budget. Over the next six months, I will solicit input from our local VA leaders and external stakeholders on how best to target our funding to the geographical areas that need it most. Based on that input we will come forward with proposals for fiscal year 2019 on how to improve the targeting of our homeless program funding.



Statement by VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin — Permanent Community Care Legislation

12/06/2017 11:08 AM EST

WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump is working to ensure his Administration fulfills its commitment to America’s veterans so they receive the care they deserve.  Under the President’s leadership, we have enacted major reform bills including Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, the Forever GI Bill, and Appeals Modernization, among others.

I am pleased that Congress is working on the last piece of business this year in considering proposals for permanent authorization of community care for Veterans.  As we have made clear for many months, Congress needs to pass a bill this year to help our Veterans get the care they need and have earned through their service and sacrifice to our country.

We are pleased to see key provisions of the Administration’s CARE proposal to expand Veterans’ choice in their care — and improve VA’s ability to deliver that care — included in multiple bills under consideration by Congress.  We appreciate the Senate’s recent progress under Senator Johnny Isakson’s leadership in reporting a bill out of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the introduction of an additional CARE proposal by Sens. John McCain and Jerry Moran, and we look forward to working with Chairman Phil Roe in the House to help advance and improve their efforts.

While a limited number of legislative days remain on the calendar, we are hopeful that both the Senate and House can reach agreement on a bill before the end of the session.  To ensure our Veterans receive uninterrupted care, we are open to a short term, very limited extension of funding for the existing program to allow sufficient time for a final agreement to come together.

One way or another, I remain confident that Veterans will soon see bipartisan legislation that will greatly improve their care by providing them with better choice in selecting their best possible healthcare options.



VA and Humane Society of United States Announce Partnership

12/06/2017 12:29 PM EST

VA and Humane Society of United States Announce Partnership
12/06/2017 12:29 PM EST
Goal is to Pair Veterans With Rescued Animals
WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to encourage Veterans to consider pet ownership and volunteer opportunities with community organizations, including local animal shelters and humane societies in an effort to pair Veterans with rescued animals.

This announcement represents the latest example of VA’s commitment to working closely with nonprofit organizations and other community partners to identify new and innovative ways to support Veterans’ health and well being through this initiative.

“There are many benefits to pet ownership both for Veterans in need of companionship and for animals in need of good homes,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The greatest benefit for both can be a more fulfilled quality of life. We are pleased to work with the Humane Society on this important initiative and excited about its potential to create more opportunities to serve.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS, also hailed the new alliance.
“The partnership between animal welfare groups and VA is an important program for our Veterans and for homeless animals,” Pacelle said. “We know the power of the human-animal bond, and I can’t think of a better way to see it expressed than in helping our nation’s heroes.”

VA and the HSUS will build model programs and networks with community organizations in order to establish connections with local VA medical facilities, making it easier to link Veterans with animals ready for adoption in their local communities..



VA study shows parasite from Vietnam may be killing veterans


HERALD, W.Va. (AP) — A half a century after serving in Vietnam, hundreds of veterans have a new reason to believe they may be dying from a silent bullet — test results show some men may have been infected by a slow-killing parasite while fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
The Department of Veterans Affairs this spring commissioned a small pilot study to look into the link between liver flukes ingested through raw or undercooked fish and a rare bile duct cancer. It can take decades for symptoms to appear. By then, patients are often in tremendous pain, with just a few months to live.

Of the 50 blood samples submitted, more than 20 percent came back positive or bordering positive for liver fluke antibodies, said Sung-Tae Hong, the tropical medicine specialist who carried out the tests at Seoul National University in South Korea.

“It was surprising,” he said, stressing the preliminary results could include false positives and that the research is ongoing.

Northport VA Medical Center spokesman Christopher Goodman confirmed the
New York facility collected the samples and sent them to the lab. He would not comment on the findings, but said everyone who tested positive was notified.

Read the complete report HERE



VA to Provide Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to Some Veterans with Chronic PTSD

11/29/2017 10:50 AM EST

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will offer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) as a treatment option for a small number of Veterans with persistent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms resistant to standard options.

Providers from the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System and the VA Northern California Health Care System will partner with HBOT providers at the Tulsa Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at Oklahoma State Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base, California, respectively, to provide this care.

“There is nothing more important to us than caring for our nation’s Veterans, and that care must include finding different approaches that work best for them,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We have to explore every avenue, particularly for our most medically vulnerable Veterans, and be open to new ideas and strategies for their optimal health and well-being.”

HBOT is a procedure that increases oxygen in the body, under pressure, to encourage healing. Currently, HBOT is commonly used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning, divers’ sickness, enhanced healing of some wound problems, skin grafts, heat burns, crush injuries and other acute health-care issues that involve too little blood flow to a part of the body.

This use of HBOT for treatment of PTSD is considered an “off-label” use and will occur under the supervision of a trained physician. Separately, VA and the Department of Defense are planning a multisite research study to examine more fully the use of HBOT for patients diagnosed with PTSD.

As health-care leaders interested in innovative approaches to care, the VA Center for Compassionate Innovation (CCI) is facilitating use of HBOT for a subset of Veterans who have noticed no decrease of symptoms after receiving at least two evidenced-based treatments. CCI uses innovative approaches to treat conditions where traditional methods have been unsuccessful. VA will monitor the HBOT clinical demonstration project and the HBOT research study to help inform the potential for HBOT usage to treat a larger number of Veterans with PTSD.

For more information about VA’s Center for Compassionate Innovation, go to https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships/.



VA continues to emphasize #BeThere as a way to spread the message that suicide is preventable and YOU can help stop suicide.

Through a partnership involving Veterans Affairs and Johnson & Johnson, actor Tom Hanks has voiced a Veteran suicide prevention public service announcement video. This PSA is available in both 30 and 70 second formats.

70 second version: https://youtu.be/xCDMHaYrbk4
30 second version: https://youtu.be/OrCCrT2IyeY

Please consider sharing/running these videos on your social media channels or via other communication tools over the next year.



VA Removing Employee Arrested for Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon

09/21/2017 01:49 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is taking immediate steps to propose the termination of a Memphis VA Medical Center employee arrested over the weekend for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

Upon learning of the employee’s arrest, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour



VA Providing Support to Veterans in Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands in Aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

09/22/2017 04:24 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it continues to provide vital health care and other support to displaced Veterans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

In Puerto Rico where electricity was knocked out by Hurricane Maria, the San Juan VA Medical Center (VAMC) — currently operating on generator power and staffed by 800 employees — is providing health care for 338 inpatients, with primary care and mental health services available for walk-in patients.

“We have been in constant contact with VA Caribbean Healthcare System leadership in San Juan and are sending relief resources to the VA Medical Center as soon as possible through available transportation assets,” said VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour. “Along with hurricane-hardened construction standards, the San Juan VAMC has enough fuel, water and other supplies to last at least seven days, if not more.”

Since Hurricane Maria also damaged communication systems, such as cellular phone towers and telephone landlines, VA officials have been monitoring the VA Caribbean Facebook page, and responding to family requests for status of both patients and staff.

Meanwhile, all community clinics, including Vet Centers in Puerto Rico and USVI, have been closed until further notice. Patients with appointments will be contacted as soon as possible to reschedule. Veterans Benefits Administration offices are also closed. VA national cemeteries in Puerto Rico are also temporarily closed.

VA is also coordinating standby personnel to deploy in the event they are needed, along with mobile shelters for use as sleeping quarters, as well as mobile medical units, which can be used to augment medical services in the area.

VA teams will begin damage assessments as soon as it is safe to do so and travel routes are clear. Once assessments are complete, officials will share information about when VA clinics will be operational.

The following resources are available for Veterans and employees impacted by the hurricanes:

VA Employee Accountability hotline for staff to report their status and safety: 866-233-0152
VISN 8 TelCare 24/7 hotline to assist Veterans with health-care advice and information, to include facility status updates and emergency prescription refill information: 877-741-3400
Current operating status of VA Caribbean Healthcare System: https://www.caribbean.va.gov/emergency/index.asp
Get more information about the VA Caribbean Healthcare System at https://www.caribbean.va.gov/, or on its Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/VACaribbean
VA’s blog with information on VA facilities and services impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/hurricane-irma/.



VA Removing Employee Arrested for Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon

09/21/2017 01:49 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is taking immediate steps to propose the termination of a Memphis VA Medical Center employee arrested over the weekend for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

Upon learning of the employee’s arrest, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said, “This behavior is not in line with the norms and values of the VA, and as a result the employee has been suspended from all duties. VA has initiated the process for removal from employment.

“Secretary Shulkin has made clear that VA will hold employees accountable when they fail to live up to the high standards taxpayers expect from us. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in this case.”



Veterans Crisis Line to Open Third Call Center in Topeka, Kansas

09/13/2017 05:27 PM EDT

Veterans Crisis Line to Open Third Call Center in Topeka, Kansas

VA also expects to hire 100 employees for new center

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is opening a Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) call center in Topeka, Kansas, the third such center nationwide, and expects to hire 100 employees to staff the center, located on the campus of VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System.

VCL currently operates two centers in Canandaigua, New York, and Atlanta, Georgia.

The new call center, expected to open this fall, will give VCL the additional capacity as VA expands the “automatic transfer” function, Press 7, to its Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) and Vet Centers.

“When it comes to preventing Veteran suicide, we will do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for Veterans to reach us,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The new center in Topeka gives us more feet on the ground and an easier way for Veterans to connect with us when they need us most.”

The Press 7 function is already available at VA Medical Centers and provides immediate access to the crisis line from a main phone tree. Currently, CBOC and Vet Center phone systems do not provide that option, forcing Veterans to take an added step by dialing 800-273-8255, and then pressing 1.

Since its launch in 2007, the VCL has answered more than 3 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in imminent crisis more than 84,000 times. Since launching chat in 2009 and text services in November 2011, the VCL has answered nearly 359,000 and nearly 78,000 requests for chat and text services, respectively.

For more information or to apply for openings at the new call center, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/478700400 or www.usajobs.gov and search for announcement No. 10046052. The positions are open to applicants with prior comparable experience or a master’s degree in a health science, such as mental health, social work or psychology.

Veterans in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255.



VA Awards Grants to Help Homeless and At-risk Veterans and Families

09/13/2017 01:45 PM EDT
WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it has awarded $343 million in grants to 288 nonprofit organizations to help low-income Veterans and their families.

The grants were awarded under VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

“With these important grants, we are able to leverage the expertise of local experts to help our most economically vulnerable Veterans avoid or exit homelessness,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “This is another VA program that moves at-risk Veterans toward housing and independence.”

SSVF funding, which supports outreach, case management and other flexible assistance to rapidly re-house Veterans who become homeless or to prevent Veterans from becoming homeless, was awarded to organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SSVF served more than 148,800 participants, including approximately 95,300 Veterans and 31,950 children in fiscal year 2016. As a result of these and other efforts, Veteran homelessness is down significantly since 2010.

In addition, approximately 360,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed, rapidly re-housed or prevented from falling into homelessness as a result of VA’s homelessness programs and targeted housing vouchers through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Today’s recipients competed successfully for grants under a Dec. 7, 2016, Notice of Fund Availability. The funding will support SSVF services in fiscal 2018.

Information about the SSVF program, including the complete list of grantees, may be found at https://www.va.gov/homeless/SSVF/.



NAMI – Family-to-Family Education Program

Click HERE to enlarge image



NAMI Homefronts – Mental Illness Workshops


Click HERE to enlarge the image. “



VA Hundreds of Veterans to Participate in National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Largest wheelchair sporting event provides therapeutic benefit to disabled U.S. Veterans

WASHINGTON — Nearly 600 of the country’s best wheelchair athletes are arriving in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the 37th National Veterans Wheelchair Games being held July 17–22.

“The Wheelchair Games is a great example of some of the finest athletes on the planet displaying true skill and determination,” said Dr. David J. Shulkin, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “These Veterans have overcome significant injuries and through intense rehabilitation and training, they have pushed themselves to the limit of athletic ability and competition.”

For a complete schedule of events and additional information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, visit www.wheelchairgames.org. Follow #NVWG on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


VA Expands Transparency, Accountability Efforts

Becomes First Agency to Post Information on Adverse Employee Actions, Requires Senior Official Sign-off on All Settlement Actions Above $5,000. Click here to see the full article. “


Hotline for Veteran Complaints

“According to a June 1 Military Times article by Leo Shane III, the President’s long-promised hotline for veteran complaints was officially launched on June 1. The phone line—live now at 855-948-2311—is designed to “collect, process, and respond to the complaints of individual veterans in a responsive, timely, and accountable manner,” according to Department of Veterans Affairs officials.”


Urgent Mental Health Care.


VA expands mental health care for discharged veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs will offer urgent mental health care beginning this summer to thousands of former service members with less-than-honorable discharges, part of its expanded initiative to stem stubbornly high rates of suicide.


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Portland VA Crisis Help Line

Portland VA Crisis Help Line

Good afternoon from VA Portland Health Care System:
I wanted to share this news that has been discussed in a number of venues I have been at over the past couple years.
VAPORHCS has changed our phone message and capabilities so when Veterans call us on our main number (503)220-8262 they can be connected directly to the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing “7.”

This is the new message:

“Welcome to the VA Portland Health Care System. If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, hang up and dial 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, press 7 now to be connected with the Veterans Crisis line or you may call 1-800-273-8255 then press 1″.

Daniel E. Herrigstad
Public Affairs Officer
VA Portland Health Care System

email: daniel.herrigstad@va.gov
Office: 503-402-2975
Mobile: 971-221-4920


VA Announces New Local Director 

Welcome New VA Medical Director‏

Here is a link to the VISN 20 press release announcing the selection of Michael Fisher as the new Director of VA Portland Health Care System.

Some of you may know Mr. Fisher as he was the Interim VAPORHCS Director for several months in 2014 and was a former VISN 20 Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Network Director.

Mr. Fisher’s start date is July 24, 2016.  In the time between Dr. Burnett’s departure on July 8 to Mr. Fisher’s arrival on the 24th, our Deputy Director, Ms. Tracye Davis, will serve in an acting director capacity.


VA Program for Geriatric and Extended Care

This is the VA Program for Geriatric and Extended Care presented by the VA at the last meeting of the Medical Advisory Board. It gives an outline of what the VA offers for geriatric and extended care.

Click here for more information