(CNN)The Department of Veterans Affairs is telling hospitals to decide which staff will receive face masks amid a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to internal memos seen by The Wall Street Journal, the news publication reported on Saturday.
The department has two weeks’ worth of face masks and is struggling to obtain more as front-line health care providers are being told not to change masks as they move between patients, according to the Journal.
But in a statement to CNN, Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Christina Noel pushed back, saying that all VA employees who need PPE have it and that all VA facilities are properly equipped.
“The Wall Street Journal story you reference is extremely misleading,” Noel said in a statement. “All VA employees who need PPE have it.”
“All VA facilities are equipped with essential items and supplies to handle coronavirus cases, and all VA employees have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as per CDC guidelines,” Noel added.
CNN previously reported
on an Inspector General report
released in late March that highlighted concerns over potential supply shortages at the VA, including a low inventory of PPE.
“At the time of this OIG inspection, facility leaders expressed concerns related to supplies needed to test patients for COVID-19. They also acknowledged low inventory of personal protective equipment for staff. Of note, leaders at two facilities—Durham VA Medical Center, and John D. Dingle VA Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan—reported shortages of mechanical ventilators,” the report states.
Of the 54 Veterans Health Organization leaders interviewed by investigators, 33 reported inadequate supplies/equipment.
In response to those findings, the VA maintained that it “is equipped with essential items and supplies to handle an influx of coronavirus cases and is monitoring the status of those items daily.”
“VA is coordinating with (Health and Human Services) regarding VHA prioritization of Personal Protective Equipment,” the department added.
Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/11/politics/veterans-affairs-denies-mask-shortages/index.html