15 Apr VA Hospitals Treat 135 Non-Veteran Coronavirus Patients
The Department of Veterans Affairs is assisting 10 states in combating coronavirus spread. VA has opened bed space for non-veteran patients and is actively sending VA medical staff to private healthcare facilities.
More than 135 non-veteran patients have been treated successfully in veteran hospitals in Albuquerque, N.M.; Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York and New Jersey, the department said. Also, 44 non-veteran patients have been treated and discharged from VA care in those states, while six others have died.
VA had recently announced that it will expand its assistance to non-veterans, however, claimed that veterans will be given first priority.
“VA is committed to helping the nation in this effort to combat COVID-19,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “Helping veterans is our first mission, but in many locations across the country we’re helping states and local communities.”
Apart from its primary responsibilities of providing medical care to veterans, distributing benefits and operating national veterans’ cemeteries, the VA also need to provide emergency medical care to every citizen in times of crisis. After pleas from authorities, the VA finally opened its bed space for non-veterans in New York City, which became the epicenter of the pandemic.
As situations worsen, more states are requesting the VA’s help. The requests go through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Wilkie promised last week that his department would make 1,500 beds available for FEMA’s use.
The VA agency is facing a strong backlash because of its shortage of personal protective equipment for medical staff. One federal union registered a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, criticizing the VA for creating an unsafe working environment.
Recently few VA employees also died due to coronavirus.