Report: Some VHA facilities lack supplies, staff needed to handle coronavirus

Credit: Parentingupstream/Pixabay

Credit: Parentingupstream/Pixabay

A new report found that some medical facilities with the Veterans Health Administration don’t have enough equipment or staff to deal with the coronavirus.

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Investigators with the Office of Inspector General for the VA looked at nearly 240 VHA facilities in order to determine how prepared the VA is to handle a possible spike in patients with the coronavirus.

"There were two really alarming things and that was the lack of supplies and the lack of personnel,” CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Jeremey Butler said.

The report said nine locations reported not having enough ICU nurses.

Four of those reported they were currently staffed but “would not be in the event of a surge of patients,” the report said.

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"That was a challenge when we were sort of in our normal day to day state so I'm glad it's really being highlighted now because we're obviously going into a much more challenging time,” Butler said.

Some facilities were found to not have enough testing kits for the coronavirus.

The report also listed of lack of supplies at some locations like ventilators, N95 masks and gowns.

We spoke with VA Secretary Robert Wilkie earlier this week about concerns about a shortage of medical equipment before the OIG report was released.

"Every day we sit and we listen to medical network directors across the country and there are 18 of those,” Wilkie said. “I've empowered them to tell me when the conditions that you just described are actually taking place."

In response to the report’s findings, the VA said it is “coordinating with HHS” about personal protective equipment and it said the department is actively recruiting new employees.

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The report also found that most VA facilities did a good job of screening people to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

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