PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Federal Government officially ended the COVID-19 public health emergency last week. Friday, lawmakers urged the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center to change its COVID visitation policies that have been in place since 2020.

The Biden Administration made the monumental announcement on May 11. Now with COVID seemingly in the rearview, the call for policy change at the Wilkes-Barre VA is now louder than ever.

“There is no excuse, it is over,” said Nicole R. Guest, Navy Veteran, and Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Volunteer,

Nicole Guest is a Navy veteran and dedicated volunteer at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.
She is passionate about advocating for the men and women who call the va home and must abide by its policies.

“Every week, they say to myself and a couple of us that go in with them, why aren’t we going on the bus trips? Why can’t we leave? Why are we, prisoners? It’s absolutely horrific,” stated Guest.

Thursday, Congressman Matt Cartwright and Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Gerrity sent a letter to the director of the medical center. They are requesting an update to the restrictive policies currently in effect at the va relating to visitation and patient and resident social interactions.

“These are our brave men and women who fought for our country and basically fought for our freedoms and we’ve basically stripped them of their freedoms for three years and two months, and enough is enough, is enough,” Garrity added.

Garrity served 30 years in the Army Reserve, retired as a Colonel, and earned two Bronze Stars.

“I will always fight for my fellow veterans,” Garrity continued.

In a statement issued to Eyewitness News Friday, a spokesperson for the VA said:

“The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center received the COVID-19 police inquiry and is in the process of developing a response. The medical center continues to follow veterans health administration guidance on COVID-related protections and restrictions.”

Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Spokesperson

“We’re not downplaying covid, but it’s here forever. It’s like the flu, the common cold every year, it’s here. You have to factor in their mental health,” Guest explained.

Representatives from the VA declined to do an interview with Eyewitness News. Additional information on the VA’s current COVID policies can be found online on their website.