A letter about COVID-19 bearing the address of the Roseburg VA Healthcare System’s Brookings Clinic is making the rounds of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The trouble is, the letter’s a hoax.

The letter didn’t come from the Roseburg VA, or any other facility under the Department of Veterans Affairs. Worse, the information is misleading. If those who read it were to take it seriously, it could also be dangerous.

“This is not official Roseburg VA Health Care System, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. We are currently looking into the origins of this document,” Roseburg VA spokesman Tim Parish said in an email.

In the meantime, the VA is urging patients to ignore the letter if they run across it on social media.

Instead, patients can seek out reliable information about COVID-19 from the VA at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/. Reliable information can also be found at the website for the Centers for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

The hoax letter begins with the all-caps headline “IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT — CORONAVIRUS” and goes on to state that “Last evening dining out with friends, one of their uncles, who’s graduated with a master’s degree and who worked at Shenzhen Hospital ...”

This supposed uncle is then credited with a list of misleading and false claims about the virus. For example it suggests without any basis in fact at all that the virus can be killed by an 80-degree temperature or by the sun. It also makes a fake claim that drinking warm water or gargling with warm saltwater is effective at preventing the virus.

Want to prevent catching or spreading the coronavirus?

Here’s the real prevention advice being issued by the VA:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Stay home if you are sick or becoming sick.

• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Social distancing is also an important prevention measure.

The hoax letter circulating on social media also contains misleading claims about the symptoms of coronavirus.

Here’s the accurate list of the most common symptoms, according to the CDC: fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Veterans who have these symptoms or have been exposed to someone with these symptoms, are being asked to call before going to the VA. The number to call is 541-440-1000.

Roseburg VA is offering COVID-19 screening and treatment. Samples are taken on-site and will be processed by the North Carolina-based company LabCorp, which has a network of labs across the country.

Everyone entering the main VA campus in Roseburg or affiliated clinic campuses is now being screened before being allowed on-site.

Patients known to be at risk will be isolated to prevent spreading the illness to other patients.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(1) comment


Some Veterans who utilize the Brookings VA clinic are aware of the problems experienced with getting care at this clinic. Last December, after checking in with the Brookings VA clerk and providing his symptoms, A Vietnam Veteran who was not feeling well was left to sit in the waiting room for a half hour before being told to go to Urgent Care by the Nurse who did not even check his vital signs. When provided with the same symptoms given to the VA clerk, Curry Medical Center immediately took action and an entire team simultaneously performed an EKG, hooked up an IV, took Blood samples and asked questions- This Veteran's symptoms were the signs of a heart attack.

In response to this Brookings VA clinic failure the Nurse Managers response was that the Veteran and the two friends that brought him to the clinic should have known to go to the ER and her staff was not responsible.

This same Nurse Manager had previously denied this Veteran insulin for his diabetes. Another Veteran had to ask DeFazio's office for help after he was denied a prescription refill for Metformin for his diabetes.

The Brookings VA Clinic has been short staffed 1 doctor when there should be 2 for four of the last five years, turning away Veterans seeking Primary Care. The Brookings VA social worker dropped the ball on a suicidal Veteran with severe PTSD twice in as many days amid a standoff with OSP and County sheriffs responding and then falsifying Veterans Medical Records to cover up for her own shortcomings as a therapist.

There are a lot more stories of substandard care at the Brookings VA Clinic. At the November 20th 2018 VA town hall, local Veterans showed up in numbers complaining of substandard VA care. The February 19th, 2019 town hall was scheduled on short notice and was not even advertised in the local paper. VA Staff outnumbered the handful of Veterans that did show up.

There is a massive failure of Roseburg VA Healthcare System performing or offering medical screenings mandated by VHA directives, handbooks, guidelines and recognized by the US Preventative Services Task Force. these screenings include Lung Cancer Screening, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening, Colorectal Cancer Screening, Annual Diabetic Foot exams/podiatry care, Peripheral Artery Disease Screening, and EKG screening.

Family medical history of diseases which add to the risk factors for Veterans are not considered, Veterans Medical record problems lists are incomplete which adds to the problem of the revolving door of Primary Care Providers Veterans are assigned to (I've had 7 since 2016).

Veterans and their PCPs are not always informed of testing/imaging results that show Carotid Artery Stenosis or sever blockages of the aorta, The Brookings clinic failed to inform me of my blood lab results which showed my a1c was 11.8, it would be an entire year before I was tested again, my a1c 11.9 that I was finally informed I was severely diabetic.

Numerous Veterans are misdiagnosed due to problems with Roseburg's Radiologists/MRI and Veterans needing shoulder or knee surgery are shot up with Cortisone before going outside the Roseburg VA and utilizing their medicare or private insurance to have knee and shoulder surgeries.

Veterans are denied MRIs, physical therapy and aqua therapy.

There are many more Roseburg VA Healthcare System problems, which would include the failure of the Patient Advocates, all of which have been brought to the attention to the VA at town hall meetings.

I've stated previously that Director Allen is the right Director at the right time to fix this broken system. He's been here for a year now and the problems continue.

if you were to read just the VHA Directives, The VA looks good on paper. The reality is, according to it's own Doctors, and Veterans, the system is badly broken. The new recently installed flooring in buildings on the Roseburg Campus looks good though.

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