To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in southern Arizona among Veterans and their families, the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) partnered with the Pima County Health Department on Dec. 4 for a tele-town hall to provide updates on the current COVID-19 surge within Pima County.

Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County Public Health director (left), senior communications specialist Caitlin Jensen and Pima County Public Health safety liaison Manuel Montano after the Veteran tele-townhall, which was sponsored by the Tucson VA.

This was the first ever Veteran outreach event co-hosted by the two groups. The tele-town hall reached over 1,200 Veterans and family members.

The event provided an opportunity for Veterans and their families to ask questions. Topics included the status of the current widespread transmission of COVID-19 and how to stay safe during the outbreak.

Information they need to stay safe

Tucson VA staff wanted to ensure Veterans and their families have the information they need to stay safe from COVID-19.

“Partnering with the Pima County Health Department ensured we were able to provide our Veterans and their families with a full picture of the outbreak and discuss strategies on how they can protect themselves,” said Dr. John Kettelle, chief of staff.

According to Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Veteran population within Pima County tends to be older. It also has a higher risk for health complications from COVID-19. Cullen is the Pima County Public Health director.

Planning on future sharing of critical health issues

“We wanted to let the Veterans know they are a critical part of our Pima County population. And we wanted to share COVID-19 mitigation concepts that we know can be of good use,” said Cullen.

SAVAHCS and the Pima County Health Department are looking to partner in the future using virtual and in-person platforms to reach Veterans and their families on critical public health issues.

“My hope is this is just the beginning of an increasing communications partnership between us and the Pima County Health Department,” said Cullen.

Luke Johnson is the assistant public affairs office for the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.

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