Prepare for Your Visit - VA Northern California Health Care System
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VA Northern California Health Care System

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Prepare for Your Visit

Prepare for a visit: Everyone entering our facilities is screened, and visitors are limited. Face coverings are mandatory. Please contact us first before going to any of our locations. For some needs, you may be able to get care at home by phone or video.

The VA Northern California Health Care System has adjusted operations to ensure we can continue to deliver the best care to Veterans in the safest way possible. While we always strive to provide a clean environment, we are taking additional measures, such as frequent cleaning of high-touch areas like doorknobs, handrails, countertops and vinyl seating, as well as removing magazines and other paper documents from waiting areas. Rigorous cleaning will continue in inpatient areas. As a reminder, washing your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) is still the best way to clean your hands. However, if that is not possible, additional hand hygiene stations are located throughout our facilities.

The following safety measures have been implemented until further notice:

(Click a link below to jump to a topic)

Stay home and Phone |  Appointments | Surgeries | On-Demand Testing
Entry to the Mather/Martinez campuses and Clinics | Face Mask Policy
Screenings | Visitor Policy | Medical Emergencies
Shuttles To/From the SFVAMC | Prescriptions | CBOCs | Veterans Crisis Line


Stay Home and Phone

We are continuing to see patients in person for appointments. However, we are encouraging Veterans to use our virtual care options (Telehealth, VA Video Connect) for specialty care, primary care and mental health services whenever possible. Patients who need an in-person appointment can contact their care team.

If you are having a life-threatening emergency, please call 911. The Emergency Department at the Mather VA Medical Center is open 24/7.


Patients with scheduled in-person appointments should arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to avoid overcrowding of waiting areas. If Veterans arrive sooner, they may be asked to wait in their vehicles.

To allow for more physical distancing in VA NorCal facilities, we are encouraging patients with scheduled appointments to check in using VEText before exiting their vehicles.

  1. When you arrive at the VA medical center or clinic for your appointment, text the word “here” to 53079.
  2. Wait in your vehicle for a text reply.
  3. Once you receive a text message confirming your care team is ready to see you, head to the nearest entrance and enjoy your appointment.
  4. It’s that simple!

We made changes to waiting areas, check-in desks and other common spaces to encourage physical distancing. Please stay at least six feet away from others at all times. Additional space between seating, plexiglass panels, limited elevator capacity, visual markings on floors are just a few of the changes you will notice at our facilities. Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed around the medical center and clinics.


Elective surgeries and procedures are being scheduled based on bed, staff and PPE availability. All pre-procedural (aerosol-generating and high-risk, due to close/prolonged contact with oral/nasal airway), newly admitted, transferred and symptomatic patients will undergo COVID-19 testing.

On-Demand COVID-19 Testing

​​On-demand COVID testing is available for VA NorCal patients and VA employees at all of our sites. If staff or patients are displaying COVID symptoms while at one of our facilities, they should present to their nearest swabbing station immediately. If no symptoms are present, please see testing times and locations below. 


​Mather No appointment required. Present to Primary screening at Building 650. Swabbing is done outdoors behind the Emergency Department. ​Tuesday and Thursday ​9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ​800-382-8387
Redding Appointment required. Present to primary screening. Patients will be sent to vehicles and swabbed. ​ ​Tuesday and Thursday 10 - 11 a.m. ​530-226-7512

Entry to the Mather/Martinez Campuses and Clinics

Only patients with in-person appointments or emergency needs will be allowed into the medical center or community-based outpatient clinics.

All entering VA NorCal facilities must follow the required precautions below:

  • Wear a face covering or mask.
  • Participate in checkpoint health screening.
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Follow directions of VA employees.
  • Keep visits as short as possible.

Face Mask Policy

  • Everyone is required to wear a face mask or covering in our facilities.
  • Surgical masks will be provided at the screening station to all veterans wearing cloth face coverings entering the facility for a clinical appointment or procedure.
  • Face masks and respirators with exhalation valves do not protect others because they allow unfiltered breath and droplets into the air. Visitors or staff who bring their own masks with exhalation valves must either use a surgical mask or acceptable face covering instead or place a surgical mask or acceptable face covering over their existing mask that covers the exhalation valve. VHA can provide the appropriate mask or face covering.
  • A mask or acceptable face covering should be worn outside when standing in line to enter the building.
  • Every effort should be made to keep masks clean and dry. If they become wet or soiled, masks should be replaced. Perform hand hygiene prior to putting on a mask, periodically while wearing the mask and/or if you touch the mask, and after mask removal.
  • Inpatients:
    • will be provided with a surgical mask to be worn during all clinical encounters. 
    • must wear surgical masks at all times when other people are present. 
    • must wear surgical masks when leaving their rooms.
    • Note: Inpatients with medical or behavioral problems that make wearing a mask difficult or impossible will be exempted from the above guidance.


To ensure everyone's safety, all requesting to enter the Medical Center or our community-based outpatient clinics will answer health screening questions before entry. To expedite the in-person screening process, use our COVID-19 Screening Tool.

Visitor Policy

To protect our patients and staff, the following visitor policy is in effect at the Medical Center and at our community-based outpatient clinics.

  • Visitors are not allowed for inpatients at the Mather and Martinez campuses.
  • The Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care visitor policy is determined by national VA guidelines. Current visitor exceptions are for patients at end of life with estimated prognosis of < 48 hours. One visitor at a time per patient.
  • Veterans without scheduled appointments requesting to visit the Canteen or Retail Store only will not be allowed entry.

Visitor Policy Exceptions

We understand there are times when having a visitor or family member present is necessary. For this reason, below are exceptions to our visitor policy.

Visitors who are visiting patients in acute care:

  • Please go to Station 3 at the Emergency Department to get to acute care.  In addition to the daily wristband, a white wristband will also need to be worn if going to the acute care setting.

Inpatient visitors are allowed on a case-by-case basis for:

  • Seriously ill patients (non-COVID-19 or person under investigation patients) who are expected to die within a short period of time (i.e., expected to pass during this hospitalization).
  • Inpatients with physical and/or cognitive conditions, disruptive behavior, altered mental status or developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety) when a companion is necessary to ensure the veteran is able to engage with care. One visitor per patient.

Outpatient visitors must enter throught Building 200 and are allowed for:

  • Patients requiring a family member/caregiver to receive discharge or post-op instructions, which cannot be given via telephone. One family member/caregiver allowed during the discharge process. Visitors must be on the daily list of allowed visitors.
  • Outpatients with physical and/or cognitive conditions, disruptive behavior, altered mental status, developmental delays (where the caregiver provides safety), or where a companionis key to their stabilization. One visitor per patient.

Visitors must not:

  • have symptoms of illness (fever, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath).
  • be under the age of 18.

Visitor Policy Enforcement

  • All visitors are expected to follow appropriate masking, PPE, and visitor hour requirements.
  • A staff member who discovers violations of our visitor policy can ask visitors to correct procedures for masking, PPE, visiting times, etc.
  • The Unit Director/Manager/Charge Nurse/Supervisor will be notified if there is continued non-adherence to policies.

Medical Emergencies

If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911 immediately. The Emergency Department at the Sacramento VA Medical Center is open 24/7. If you are able, please call 800-382-8387 before visiting the Emergency Department.


Patients with non-urgent prescription needs should reorder medications online or by phone. Please allow up to 10 business days for delivery. The outpatient pharmacies at the Sacramento and Martinez campuses remain open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for urgent medication needs.

To refill prescriptions:

  1. Call 1-866-600-8279. (Available 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.)
    • Have your full 9-digit Social Security Number
    • Have the prescription number(s) from your most recent prescription bottle or package
    • Be sure we have your correct address and phone number
    • Have a pen and paper ready to write down information
  2. Order online using My HealtheVet at
  3. Use VA's new Rx Refill mobile app.



Shuttle passengers are screened prior to boarding. Patients who have not been screened at the hospital or CBOC are asked the questions posted in all shuttles. Every shuttle passenger must wear a mask while on board. Patients have space between seating to comply with social distancing.

Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC)

The following safety measures have been implemented at our community-based outpatient clinics in Chico, Fairfield, Mare Island, McClellan, Oakland, Redding, Sierra Foothills, Oakland Twenty First Street Clinic, Yreka and Yuba City until further notice:

  • Universal masking policy for everyone at all times within facilities.
  • Mandatory screening for everyone entering clinics.
  • Patients should not arrive more than 30 minutes prior to their appointments to avoid overcrowding in the waiting areas. Patients may be asked to wait in their cars should they arrive earlier. To allow for more physical distancing in VA NorCal facilities, we are encouraging patients with scheduled appointments to check in using VEText before exiting their vehicles.
    • When you arrive at the VA medical center or clinic for your appointment, text the word “here” to 53079.
    • Wait in your vehicle for a text reply.
    • Once you receive a text message confirming your care team is ready to see you, head to the nearest entrance and enjoy your appointment.
    • It’s that simple!

Veterans Crisis Line

If you are a Veteran in crisis, there are specially trained responders ready to help you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by calling 800-273-8255 and Press 1.

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