El Paso VA Health Care System
What is the general status of COVID-19 in the community?
How early is the VA open?
Veterans can also receive flu vaccines at Walgreens and Wal-Mart free of charge. We would however encourage you to call ahead of time to see if they have the high dose flu vaccine available before you go.
El Paso area:
Las Cruces area:
Truth or Consequences area:
Southern Albuquerque area:
Does the Health Promotion Disease Prevention and Whole Health Program still exist?
You can visit the Pain Clinic and self-refer yourself to sign up for the classes or you can have your PCM and or nursing staff email the Pain Clinic with your name and date of birth. Currently the classes are on hold due to COVID-19 but once we are able to start up the group classes, we will be reaching out to the Veterans to inform them via Facebook, front entrance signage, and informing all the VA staff members.
October 1, 2020 Veteran Telephone Town Hall FAQs
When will the new Chief of Staff arrive?
We are looking forward to having our new COS, Dr. John Murphy, MD, MBA, CPE, FACOG from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania come on board as soon as possible. We hope to be able to share details of his arrival date during the next town hall!
How is the VA moving forward with its re-opening process?
Phase 2 Reactivation went into effect September 21, 2020. This allows us to schedule up to 50% of our patients face to face if deemed necessary by the Veteran’s medical provider.
Additionally, we have started phasing volunteers back in and look forward to advancing to Phase 3 as soon as it is safe to do so in accordance with El Paso and Dona Ana county COVID data!
What does the new Face Covering Policy entail?
Everyone must continue to wear face coverings in order to enter our clinics. As of Monday, September 28, bandanas and face masks with vents will NO LONGER BE ALLOWED on the premises.
The center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following guidance be followed for face masks:
1) Have two or more layers of washable and breathable fabric.
2) Fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps.
3) Completely cover your mouth AND nose.
Effective immediately everyone is required to wear the masks, even when social distancing is possible.
The following are the only exceptions:
1) When drinking or eating in the VCS Cafe
2) When employees are in their office by themselves
3) When a provider asks a patient to remove their masks for clinical exam or medical care.
Are you accepting walk in patients yet?
No, everyone must have an appointment to enter the facility. Many of our services have shifted to virtual and/or the parking lot to streamline our delivery of health care.
Only one person is allowed to enter the building with each patient. No children under the age of 18 are allowed to enter the facility. Please make appropriate arrangements ahead of time. We cannot have children left alone, outside of the building, in cars, etc. while a Veteran attends their appointment. This is to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.
Has the Dental Clinic resumed services?
Yes. The dental clinic is now open for operations at a limited capacity, therefore, it is imperative that only dental eligible veterans contact the clinic before coming in to receive a scheduled appointment. There is no longer a regular dental emergency walk-in clinic. Patients must first call 915-564-7941 during normal business hours Monday through Friday or contact their dental provider via secure message.
Why is the Flu Shot so important to get?
The flu vaccine has many benefits, but this year it is more important than ever before. The Center for Disease Control reports that the flu vaccine reduces your risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. This year it can also help save resources needed in healthcare settings for COVID-19 by preventing flu infections and reducing flu related hospitalizations.
For our patients with chronic conditions, the flu vaccine is an effective preventative tool. The drive-thru clinic is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and others this flu season. We currently have limited availability of the high dose flu vaccine and anticipate more dosages to arrive mid-October
We are offering flu shots at the main facility via drive thru near the Alabama gate entrance. This service is available Mon- Fri from 0900-1400. Veterans should bring their VA ID card and wear a mask as they approach the drive-thru.
Additionally we are also offering a Saturday drive-thru flu clinic service this Saturday Oct 3 from 9 am to 1 pm at our West CBOC location (1870 Northwestern Dr., El Paso, TX 79912) .
For our patient’s convenience Veterans can also receive flu vaccines at at their nearest Walgreens and Wal-Mart stores, free of charge.
Is COVID testing still occurring?
Yes. However there has been a change in our process. Beginning on October 5, 2020 when your provider orders a COVID test you will need to call our call center at (915) 564-6100 option 2 to schedule the testing via our curbside services. As a reminder we are only testing symptomatic Veterans or those that will be having certain procedures performed here at the El Paso VA.
How can we contact a Patient Advocate?
There is a new format we have implemented in the Patient Advocate Office for you to speak with an Advocate “Face-to-Face” without having to make a trip to the VA clinic on days you do not have a scheduled appointment.
We have implemented VA Video Connect as an option for you to speak to a Patient Advocate “Face-to-Face” just as you may do for your medical appointments via Smartphones and tablets with a video camera.
Please send a Secure Message through MyhealtheVet or a private Facebook message to include a good contact phone number or email and a Patient Advocate will send a message to you to connect by VA Video Connect.
You are always welcome to call the office at (915) 564-6197 to speak to an advocate or you may send us a secure message and we will get back to you with a response during normal operating hours Monday through Friday.
What updates are available on the new VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs)?
The West Side CBOC will be welcoming two additional doctors to their clinic; Dr. Esteban Quirarte who will be transferring from our main facility in the next few weeks, as well as Dr. Eric Sandoval, who just joined the El Paso VA team. A short biography on Dr. Sandoval will be sent out to all his new patients this week!
The North East CBOC is still under way and we are excited to announce that we have chosen a Clinic Manager for that facility. Soon the patients that will be assigned to that clinic will receive a mail notification along with a biography of the new manager, Amy Straley, who was formerly a nurse at our main facility!
Are there and Community Care Service Updates?
Yes. We want to remind Veterans to take their “primary” authorization to the “secondary” facilities that they are presenting at for care. We no longer send authorizations for the secondary facilities as these services are all included on the primary authorization. If the vendor refuses to provide services because their name isn’t on the authorization, please make sure you call TriWest while you are at the facility to have this resolved on the spot. The number to dial is 866-620-2071.
I.E., Primary care provider (PCP) in the community is requesting an MRI and Veteran presents to DOI (Diagnostic Outpatient Imaging) they should have the authorization that they were sent for their PCP when they present to DOI; PCP orders labs and they go to Quest with the orders and they should also have their authorization for their PCP.
1) Please make sure Veterans are sending in all bills they receive to our CCS email group ELPCLAIMSISSUES@VA.GOV we have had GREAT success with lowering the foot traffic to the VA for billing issues and we want to continue to make life easier for our Veterans receiving care in the community.
2) The local VA is now scheduling all care for services needed in the community. It is important that preferences are captured at the time of consult placement so please provide this information to our providers and the MSA’s during appointments or checkout. If the care requested is a continuation of previous care, please provide the next appointment date and time to the provider so that you won’t have to be called to obtain that information from the community care office. Your consult will be placed and scheduled accordingly, and authorizations sent as appropriate.
When is the next blood drive happening?
The next Armed Forces blood drive will be held on Friday, October 30 from 1000 to 1400 in our VA parking lot at the main facility.
Please read below to see if you qualify to give blood based on recent changes:
**Donors need to eat a good meal and drink plenty of liquids prior to donating.**
WEIGHT: Must weigh at least 116 pounds.
AGE: Minors (as defined by the state) must have written parental consent. Age 17 in the military is accepted.
PREVIOUS BLOOD DONATION: Single unit whole blood donation, must wait 56 days since previous donation.
Double unit whole blood donation, must wait 16 weeks since last donation.
Platelet donation must wait 2 days since last donation.
Plasma donation must wait 4 weeks since last donation.
PREGNANCY: Must wait 6 weeks after delivery or termination of pregnancy.
COLD/FLU: Must be free of cold and flu symptoms for 72 hours.
ANTIBIOTICS: Acceptable if for acne. Must wait 72 hours after completion for all other medical conditions.
DENTAL PROCEDURES: Must wait 24 hours after routine check-up, dental cleanings, and fillings.
Must wait 72 hours after tooth extractions, root canals, and oral surgery.
TRAVEL: KOREA: North of Seoul – In country less than 5 years, must wait 3 months after departure.
Seoul and South of Seoul – Acceptable to donate. (Also North of Seoul for day trips ≤24 hours.)
In country 5 years or more continuously, must wait 3 years after departure.
UNITED KINGDOM: Total time spent between 1980 and 1996 must not be 3 months or more in the UK countries of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands.
FRANCE AND IRELAND: Total time spent between 1980 and 2001 must not be 5 years or more. Time spent in Ireland does NOT include time spent in Northern Ireland (UK).
MALARIAL ENDEMIC COUNTRIES: Afghanistan – must wait 3 months after departure from country. Ask staff which other countries are malarial endemic.
TATTOOS AND PERMANENT MAKEUP: Accept if 7 days from the date of the tattoo, completely healed, and performed at a licensed facility using sterile/single-use needles and ink that has not been reused within the following states/territories: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington (State), West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
*All other states/territories and areas outside the U.S. must wait 3 months.*
PIERCINGS: Body alterations must wait 3 months. Ear and body piercings are acceptable if done with single-use equipment. Ear/body piercings done with non-sterile or non-single use equipment must wait 3 months.
Accept immediately if symptom-free: Anthrax, Flu (spray or injection), Hepatitis A, Gardasil (Human Papillomavirus or HPV), Meningococcal, Pertussis, Plague, Pneumococcal, Polio (injection), Tetanus, Typhoid (injection)
Allergy shots – Must wait 24 hours.
PPD (TB skin test) – Accept if no redness or swelling, part of basic health screening, or negative reading at 48-72 hours.
Hepatitis B, Heptavax – Must wait 72 hours if not given for exposure.
Mumps, Polio (oral), Rubeola, Yellow Fever – Must wait 2 weeks.
Rubella (German measles), MMR, Varicella Zoster (Chickenpox) – Must wait 4 weeks.
Smallpox – Acceptable if 21 days from immunization or scab has spontaneously separated, whichever is longer, as long as no other symptoms or complications.
For questions regarding all other immunization please check with Armed Services Blood Program staff.
September 17, 2020 Veteran Town Hall FAQs
When will the El Paso VA Health Care System (EPVAHCS) increase the amounts of patients being seen?
Starting September 21, 2020, EPVAHCS will move to Phase 2 reactivation and we will be seeing up to 50% of patients face to face.
As a reminder, you must wear a face covering to enter EPVAHCS. If you cannot wear a face covering, this must be addressed prior to entering the building to keep everyone safe.
Only one adult is allowed to enter the facility with the Veteran. You must have an appointment to enter the facility. No children under the age of 18 are allowed to enter the facility.
Is the WCBOC fully staffed now and ready to serve patients?
Westside Community Based Outpatient Clinic (WCBOC) now has two providers; Dr. Cheng, Dr. Boggosian and two new providers will begin working there October 19, 2020. There are still 1,300 patients that need to be reassigned to WSCBOC and we will be contacting these patients shortly.
How do I obtain any records or information I need?
The Release of Information (ROI) Office will be scheduling a limited number of face to face appointments beginning September 21, 2020. Appointments can be used to drop off medical forms needing provider’s signature, notarization for Advanced Directives and to receive paper copies up to 10 pages. No CDs are being made at this time.
Please continue to call in advance so that we can best assist you. Contact ROI at 915-564-7995 for assistance or online through MyHealtheVet.
Where and when is the flu shot available this year?
Flu Shots are being offered for Veterans in a variety of modalities in accordance with the schedule below:
Main campus – flu shots are available as a drive through Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. These will be given from the South Parking Lot via the Alabama Gate from a beige/tan tent. If you have a vehicle, please drive through for safety. High dose vaccines are available for those ages 65 and higher.
Las Cruces CBOC – is offering flu shots from 2 – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday on a walk-in basis.
Eastside CBOC – is offering flu shots from 9 – 11 a.m. & 1 – 3:45 p.m. Monday – Friday on a walk-in basis
Westside CBOC – is offering flue shots from 1 – 3:45 p.m. Monday – Friday on a walk-in basis.
Additional flu shot times are as follow:
September 19, 2020 – drive through flu shots from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Las Cruces CBOC and South Central Wellness Center.
September 22, 2020 – drive through flu shots from 4:30 – 7 p.m. at the Las Cruces CBOC.
September 23, 2020 – drive through flu shots from 4:30 – 7 p.m. at the South Central Wellness Center.
September 30, 2020 – drive through flu shots from 4:30 – 7 p.m. at the Westside CBOC.
October 3, 2020 – drive through flu shots from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Westside CBOC.
Additionally, Veterans can also receive no cost flu shots from Walgreens and Walmart.
Has the VA proceeded with conducting Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exams?
Yes. we are doing C&P evaluations; however, IDES unit on base is still not seeing patients face to face. We are working with VA to be able to offer services at IDES.
Who or what determines if I will be scheduled for a virtual or face to face visit?
We continue to maximize the use of virtual and telephonic appointments. If you need to be seen in-person by a clinician, you will be seen in person as determined by the provider. For your convenience there are now evening MRI clinics open until 9 p.m. Monday – Friday. We are still closed on Saturdays.
How has COVID affected Clothing Allowance procedures?
For Veterans that receive clothing allowances, 2020 clothing allowance applications can still be submitted.
Allowances are typically paid out in September or October. There are no current payment delay notifications.
For more information, please contact 915-564-7961.
September 3, 2020 Town Hall Frequently Asked Questions
As COVID numbers decline, how is the VA moving forward?
Phase 1.1 Reactivation went into effect August 31,2020. This means that our ambulatory surgery unit is now open and can schedules procedures. They are limited to 25% capacity (until phase 2) and all patients will be tested for COVID within 72 hours of any surgery that occur in the operating rooms.
Phase 2 of our moving forward plan is simply increasing from 25% face to face (F2F) appointments, to 50% F2F. All clinicians will continue scrubbing appointment lists to determine what appointments are clinically appropriate to convert to virtual care.
Additionally, the Associate Director and her team have already placed extra chairs in waiting areas to accommodate the increased volume.
We continue monitoring the COVID case count to make the best decisions for your safety. As of now we will implement Phase 2 on September 21 but still highly encourage virtual care wherever possible.
Furthermore, we are checking with our higher headquarters on social distancing guidelines, because before we can move to Phase 3 (75% F2F), the physical distancing standards would need to change.
When will the flu vaccine be available?
Due to the circumstances this year the El Paso VA will host a Flu Clinic drive thru at the main facility beginning September 14. The drive thru will be located in the south parking lot near the Alabama gate and operate Monday to Friday from 0900-1400.
Additionally, the Flu Vaccine will be offered effective September 14 at all of our Community Based Outpatient Clinics and operate based on the schedule below:
Las Cruces CBOC
Walk-in Flu Clinic
Monday – Friday 1400-1600
East Side CBOC
Walk-in Flu Clinic
Monday – Friday 0900-1100 and 1300-1545
West Side CBOC
Walk-in Flu Clinic
Monday – Friday 1300-1545
Have MEB and C&P Exam Updates resumed?
Yes. The Veterans Benefit Administration has started sending out the request for these exams to the contractors. If you were previously scheduled for these exams, they are working the list to reschedule from the oldest cancellation to the newest.
Is COVID-19 Testing readily available at the VA?
Our entrance screening staff members will continue to ask about changes to your health and assess your temperature upon entry to any VA facility.
At this time we do not offer COVID-19 testing to any Veteran simply requesting it, this protocol is the same for William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
Based on symptoms like fever, cough, sudden shortness of breath your provider will order a COVID test. The collection of that test will be coordinated with you to limit exposure to staff and other Veterans. We are collecting those precoordinated COVID swabs in the main parking lot of the VA.
Please do not attempt to enter the building for a COVID test. If you have questions about symptoms you are experiencing, possible exposure, or need to schedule a face to face appointment please call ahead to (915) 564-6100, and select option 3 to speak to a registered nurse. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.
Can you tell us about the new check in process for patient visits?
We are trying hard to make sure that the people who come into our building have a legitimate need to be at a VA facility, we have a new check in processes in place. This is designed to protect both Veterans and staff who need to be in the building. Thus, there are queued lines set up inside the foyer area. Please follow them to check in. We ask that if you have your appointment letter or reminder card that you bring it with you.
Note that Veterans will not be allowed to enter any of our facilities more than 30 minutes ahead of their appointment time. If you arrive earlier, you will be directed to wait in your car.
We ask that if you have your appointment letter or reminder card that you bring it with you. If you forget it we have staff inside who can look up your scheduled visit and get you checked in quickly. At present time Veterans are not allowed to simply come in and dine at the café or shop at the Veterans Canteen Store.
When will the Northeast Community Based Outpatient Clinic (NCBOC) Open?
We have leased a building on Sanders Avenue and are working with the lessor to make renovations to the building. We anticipate opening the clinic to Veteran patients some time in November. When that happens, we will begin assigning patients who live in the area to that clinic and we will be able to welcome back even more Veterans from Care in the Community to VA care.
Is there plans to open up other clinics around the city?
Yes. As the El Paso Veteran community continues to grow we are looking at possibly building a site of care in the Horizon area next year. More to follow on this as soon as we have the details and necessary approval.
What is BTSSS?
The acronym stands for Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System and is a new way to submit travel pay. VA travel pay reimbursement through the Beneficiary Travel program pays eligible Veterans back for mileage and other travel expenses to and from approved health care appointments.
VA offers two types of travel pay reimbursement: general health care travel and special mode transportation. As a Veteran, you may be eligible for one or both. A Veteran may be eligible for beneficiary travel services if the following criteria are met:
o Are traveling for a scheduled compensation or pension.
o Have a service-connected (SC) rating of 30 percent or more, or
o Are traveling for treatment of a SC condition, or
o Receive a VA pension, or your income does not exceed the maximum annual VA pension rate, or
BTSSS is the fastest way to submit a new claim and get faster processing of a pending claim. For new claims and any pending claims, log in to (BTSSS) and create a profile. An updated profile is required now to file a claim online and to process previously submitted kiosk and hard copy claims. Visit AccessVA and select the Veteran Travel Claim Entry icon to get started at https://access.va.gov.
EL Paso VA is implementing a new web-based portal beginning 9 September 2020 to submit and process beneficiary travel claims. The portal, BTSSS, is VA’s preferred method to accept travel reimbursement claims. Claims submitted using the kiosks and hard-copy submissions will still be available.
How long will I have to wait to receive travel pay?
BTSSS automates the claims process to ensure timely processing and payment of travel reimbursement claims. With BTSSS, turnaround time to evaluate and settle a claim is generally less than 5 days. BTSSS allows Veterans and caregivers to submit claims 24/7, 365 days a year from a computer or mobile device. It also allows users to electronically track the status of a claim request.
How do I submit my Beneficiary Travel claim?
To start the process please visit https://access.va.gov, select the Veteran Travel Claim Entry icon, and logon using a DS Log on Level 2 account. You will need to create or re activate your DS Log on level 2 account before you can use the new automated system. Log in to BTSSS and create your profile today to allow faster processing of any pending claims. If you do not want to use the new electronic system you can still submit a hard copy voucher at your local travel office.
What if I have questions or concerns about Beneficiary Travel?
There are several sources of help to file a claim. Eligible Veterans and caregivers may get help from a travel clerk at the facility. Veterans may use the email group, email@example.com for general questions or refer to the BTSSS user’s guide at https:// www.va.gov/health-care/get-reimbursed-for-travel-pay. Veterans can call the Beneficiary Travel Help Desk for Veterans and caregivers: 1-855-574-7292 or they can call the El Paso VA Office at 915-564-6100 ext. 7947
Thank you for tuning in to our meeting. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback to our Facebook inbox until we can hold these town halls in person again!!