July 2020 Special Feature
OKC VA launches “Wear it for Them!” face mask campaign
By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – With the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Oklahoma, the CDC, the US Surgeon General and other doctors are now urging the widespread use of masks and face coverings.
To support this initiative, the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center has launched a campaign called “Wear it for Them!” to raise awareness on the “importance of all of us doing our part to protect ourselves and each other.”
“But we have seen time and time again that many Oklahomans are not wearing them,” says the OKC VA press release.
Audrey Umhoefer, OKC VA Public Affairs Officer said, “Our message is that we are all in this together.”
Scientists have made many recent discoveries about this new coronavirus, including:
- It’s easy to spread this virus by just talking or breathing.
- This coronavirus is highly contagious.
- This virus has a long incubation period – up to 14 days – giving a wide window of opportunity for people to infect others before they even know they’re infected.
The CDC now says the public needs to “cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.” The CDC also said widespread mask usage could benefit everyone: “Your cloth face covering may protect them. Their cloth face covering may protect you,” the CDC said.
According to the press release, the VA has been a leader in patient safety for years and is becoming an enterprise-wide High Reliability Organization (HRO). By adopting high reliability principles, the VA more formally represents the next step for delivering the best health care to Veterans.
“Pursuing these principles nationwide is our pledge to empower staff and keep Veterans the safest they can be on our watch. The ‘Wear it for Them’ campaign helps VA staff to demonstrate and support our HRO Values,” said Umhoefer.
Veterans at Higher Risk – According to the CDC, a person with COVID-19 can lack symptoms and transmit the virus to others and not even know it. This can be extremely dangerous for the most vulnerable population which includes: older adults, people with asthma, at risk for severe illness, people with HIV, those with liver disease, and people who are immunocompromised.
Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
Those who choose not to wear a mask or face covering are putting their own lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.
The OKC VA is asking everyone to be a patriot – Protect your fellow Oklahomans. Wear it for them!
OKC VA Visitation Policy – The Oklahoma City VA is still limiting visitation at this time (with exception of end of life situations or a primary caretaker.) Visitors are asked to not bring children under the age of 18 to the hospital.
OKC VA Visitation Guidelines state: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience, but your safety and the safety of others is at the forefront of everything we do. If you have a scheduled VA appointment, we are asking everyone to follow the guidance of the CDC that requires everyone who enters our facility to wear a mask or face covering and participate in a health screening prior to entering. This will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable.
“If you do not have a mask, we can provide you with one. If there is a reason you are not able to wear a mask please let us know.”
VA Health Screening – Upon entering the Oklahoma City VA facility, visitors will be asked to answer these health questions:
- Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
- Are you waiting for COVID-19 test results?
- Do you have a fever?
- Do you have new or worsening cough or shortness of breath?
- Do you have any cold or flu like symptoms?
- Do you have a new onset of diarrhea?
- Do you have a new onset of headache, loss of taste or loss of smell?
In order to achieve a ‘Healthy Visit’ and prevent the spread of coronavirus, OKC VA recommends the following: Wear a mask or face coverings at all times; practice social distancing; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; wash your hands frequently; and leave the facility as soon as your visit is over.
Those who are “at high risk” are strongly encouraged to not visit the facility unless they have emergent needed care or treatment. Those visitors are asked to contact the OKC VA 24/7 Nurse Triage Line at 405-456-1000, option 3.
Veterans are urged to continue to use the Oklahoma City VA Virtual Care options for most primary care and mental health services.
For more information, visit connectedcare.va.gov