Veterans Crisis Line Challenges, Contingency Plans, and Successes During the COVID-19 Pandemic [open pdf - 1MB]
From the Executive Summary: "The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is conducting a series of reviews focusing on the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) management of key clinical areas during the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic that are crucial to the well-being of veterans. This review focused on select Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) operations ranging from contingency planning to quality metrics and lessons learned. The VCL is organizationally aligned under the VHA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and operates 24 hours per day and 7 days per week, with call centers in Canandaigua, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; and Topeka, Kansas. [...] As COVID-19 evolved, many Americans, including veterans, experienced a range of negative effects from fear and social isolation to unemployment and financial insolvency. Because of these and other stressors associated with the pandemic, an increase in the volume of incoming VCL calls, chats, and texts was expected. [...] Overall, VCL leaders repeatedly expressed that although initially reluctant, the transition to telework had improved staff morale and decreased unplanned leave usage, as well as positioned the VCL to recruit additional staff and enhance future services operations. The OIG was impressed with VCL leaders' and employees' efforts to promote employee health safety and ensure that the VCL met its mission to provide immediate access to crisis intervention services during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General Report No. 20-02830-05
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: https://www.va.gov/