In an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic, VA medical facilities across the country now require patients to answer three questions before they can enter the hospital.
I found this out Thursday when I went to the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center for an appointment.
As soon as I walked in, I was ushered, along with other patients, to a desk and told we had to read three questions out loud, and then answer them out loud.
Question No. 1: Yes, I have pneumonia. I'm here today to see if it's completely gone
Question No. 2: Yes, but no. Not in the last two weeks. Not to those countries. I went to Australia, but that was back in January.
There were follow-up questions, then No. 3:
Were you around anyone that has tested positive for coronavirus?
Not that I know of.
But there were passengers at the Sydney airport the same day I was there who later tested positive.
That's all they needed to hear.
I was told to head over to the emergency room to get a coronavirus test done.
The VA website has a statement saying it would implement screening measures until further notice.
But the fast-track testing came as a surprise to me and the other patients.
"He had a mask like this, but it was more pointed. ... He brought in a new stethoscope in a brand new box ... and he also had a garb that was in plastic that he took out and put on as we were speaking. ... So he asked me my symptoms, ... he listened to my lungs and pressed on my stomach to see if there was any pain."
I sat in this small room away from the ER waiting area for maybe 30 minutes when the doctor came in.
Minutes later, a nurse administered the test.
It was unpleasant, but a pretty quick process.
The nurse informed me the results should be back in 24-48 hours.
My tests came back Monday afternoon. They were negative. At this time, I am self-isolating in my home out of precaution.
And since the VA began implementing these new screening measures, there has been one death, five confirmed and 25 presumptive positive cases among veterans nationwide.