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Omicron surge brings changes at VA hospital

January 11, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is closing the south entrance to John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital effective today, ahead of the planned construction closure in March due to the current surge in COVID-19 positives and cases pending results.

"McClellan, like other hospitals in Arkansas, is experiencing a marked increase in inpatient positives, staff illnesses, and investigations into illnesses that may be COVID. Staff resources throughout the hospital are being dedicated to bringing the surge under control and to Veteran care. Early closure of the south entrance will free up needed staff and ensure Veteran safety," a news release said.

The new main entrance project at McClellan is underway with some solar panels being relocated to CAHVS' Fort Roots campus. A nine-month closure of the south entrance was slated to begin March 1 but will now start today. The entrance will remain open to emergency egress until construction begins in March, the release said.

"CAVHS recently took proactive measures to protect Veterans and staff by returning to our ELEVATED status visitation policy. Entry to facilities is limited to Veterans with scheduled appointments, procedures or other essential business that cannot take place by any other means, including virtually," it said.

One caregiver over the age of 18 will be allowed to accompany the veteran, if needed, and the caregiver will be directed to designated waiting areas. Social distancing is being observed throughout its facilities.

Service animals may accompany veterans to outpatient appointments and must always remain under the care and control of the veteran/caregiver, the release said.

Inpatients will be allowed one visitor older than 18 in the facility at a time. One to two visitors older than 18 may be allowed into the Palliative Care Unit at a time, it said.

Veterans and visitors to CAVHS facilities must be masked at all times; an FDA-approved mask will be provided if necessary, it said.

CAVHS COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics are open in Little Rock and North Little Rock facilities.

"Research shows that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters offer good protection against the variant, and widespread vaccination can prevent unnecessary deaths and hospitalizations. We encourage all unvaccinated Veterans and their family member to get the vaccine either at a community vaccination clinic or the VA," the release said.

Print Headline: Omicron surge brings changes at VA hospital

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