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VA St. Louis Health Care System


Emergency Department

The John Cochran Division has an emergency department. The Jefferson Barracks Division does not have an emergency department. If it is difficult for you to go to John Cochran, you should go to the nearest hospital with an emergency department.

Your concern will be assessed by a triage nurse. Patients will be seen in the order of the seriousness of their complaint. The busiest days in the emergency department are Mondays and the day following a 3-day holiday.

What is a medical emergency?

A medical emergency is when you have an injury or illness that may lead to serious health problems or death. Immediate treatment is needed. If you are not sure, please contact your primary care team to determine if you are experiencing an emergency.

Do I need to call the VA before I obtain emergency care?

No. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

If a provider wants to admit me to a non-VA hospital at VA expense, must I obtain approval from the VA?

If the admission is an emergency--NO.

If the admission is not an emergency--YES. You or someone on your behalf must call utilization review. This must be done within 48 hours of arrival

  • John Cochran: 314-652-4100 ext. 53812
  • Jefferson Barracks: 314-652-4100 ext. 64517

Please note that this does not guarantee the VA will provide payment. If a VA bed is open and transfer is safe, you must be moved. If you refuse, the VA will not pay for any further care.

In order to find out if the VA will pay for transport, call the travel department.

  • John Cochran: 314-652-4100 ext. 56415, 54172, 54804, or 54178
  • Jefferson Barracks: 314-652-4100 ext. 64450

After normal business hours call: 314-652-4100 ext. 56412

In order for the VA to pay for transport, one of the following criteria must be met.

  • You have a service-connected (SC) rating of 30 percent or more
  • You are traveling for treatment of a SC condition
  • You receive a VA pension
  • Your income is less than $11,830 if single or $15,493 if married
  • Your medical condition requires an ambulance or a specially equipped van as determined by a VA clinician

Please note that even if a VA provider tells you to transfer to the VA, it does not mean the VA will guarantee payment for transport.

Does my enrollment in the VA Health Care System change my coverage for emergency care?

Yes, it might. A patient benefits counselor can explain your options.

Does my other insurance change my VA coverage for emergency services?

Yes, it might. A patient benefits counselor can tell you more about your situation.

Will VA pay for emergency care received outside the United States?

Yes, but coverage is very different. VA will only pay for emergency care outside the US if your emergency is related to a service-connected condition. For more information go online: 

How long do I have to file a claim for reimbursement for emergency medical care?

Please file your claim with the nearest VA quickly. You have 30 days after care is provided to contact the nearest VA. A patient benefits counselor can tell you more about your situation.

If I am admitted to the hospital in an emergency, what will VA pay?

This depends on your VA eligibility status and other factors. The VA may pay all, some, or none of the charges. A patient benefits counselor can explain these factors and their impact on your situation.

Where can I get more information?

Please see this website: then go to Under Non-VA Medical Care heading

You may also call the phone numbers below.

  • For patient transfers Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. call: 314-652-4100, ext. 54165 or 57068
  • For patient transfers after 4:00 p.m. call: 314-652-4100 ext. 56384 or 54800
  • To speak to a patient benefits counselor call: 314-652-4100, ext. 65036

Contact Info


  • John Cochran Division Enright Avenue Entrance

Contact Number(s)

  • 314-652-4100 Ext. 56410

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday thru Saturday