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Maryland VA outpatient clinics closed as coronavirus spreads; Carroll Transit halts ‘heavily utilized’ shuttle route

The VA Maryland Health Care System is temporarily closing all its community-based outpatient clinics on Monday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday announced the closure, which is effective March 30 and includes the Baltimore VA Medical Center clinic on Greene Street.

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Carroll Transit usually takes patients to the Greene Street facility, Fort Detrick VA Clinic and Martinsburg VA Medical Center in West Virginia, according to Crystal Winebrenner, executive director of Carroll Transit. Trips to Fort Detrick and Martinsburg will continue, she said, as they are not affected by the closure.

However, Winebrenner said March 27, “The Baltimore shuttle is heavily utilized.”

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Typically, their Mad Dog veterans shuttle takes about 40 trips to the Greene Street facility per month, Winebrenner said, but now that’s on hold. The shuttle usually transports between nine and 11 people each to Fort Detrick and Martinsburg, she said.

“As far as we’re concerned we’re not transporting to the Greene Street location after this week,” Winebrenner said Friday.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday morning that 774 people had tested positive for COVID-19 across the state and five people have died.

Providers and staff at the clinics have transitioned to virtual care and patients are urged to use telehealth phone or video resources for scheduled appointments. The closure also affects primary care clinics at the Baltimore, Loch Raven and Perry Point VA Medical Centers, and services at the Cambridge, Eastern Baltimore County, and Pocomoke City outpatient clinics.

Oncology, radiation oncology and other medically necessary specialty care clinic visits are excluded from telehealth.

Veterans with nonurgent concerns can send a secure message about a health concern to their providers at myhealth.va.gov or use the VA Video Connect app for video appointments at mobile.va.gov/app/va-video-connect.

The following resources are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • Telephone Care Line: If veterans need medical advice, they can call the Telephone Care Line at 800-865-2441.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Specially trained responders are ready to help veterans in crisis when they call 800-273-8255 and press 1.
  • Prescription Refill Line: Veterans can request a prescription refill at 410-605-7395. They must have their Social Security and prescription numbers ready when calling and press option 2 for pharmacy prescription information.

Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs centers, like the in Annapolis, offer outpatient mental health services and are providing individual sessions through telehealth resources.

Updated information can be found at maryland.va.gov/COVID-19.asp.

Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call the Carroll County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, which is available 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. seven days a week at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211. People with emergencies should continue to call 911.

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