Reports of PPE shortage at VA facilities raise questions from lawmakers

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Some U.S. lawmakers are demanding answers after reports of a lack of personal protective equipment at some Veterans Affairs facilities.

Terrence Hayes, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, says reports about inadequate personal protective equipment inside VA hospitals are causing concern.

“There’s been conflicting reports [in] a few of the facilities that unfortunately some of the staff members have had to share PPE or re-use it or even ration it out, and that’s just unacceptable,” Hayes said.

Now lawmakers are asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to find out what’s behind those reports.

“We’ve heard from the workforce that they’re concerned about their safety,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said.

Warner says the VA hospitals are told to follow the CDC guidelines for reusing equipment but Warner says the guidelines are rapidly changing and difficult to keep track of.

“If you’ve got a workforce that feels unsafe and at the same time you’re saying you’ve got plenty of PPE, why is there this disconnect?” Warner said.

The VA said it has enough protective equipment and is monitoring the supply levels at every facility. The department says thanks to its safe practices, the rate of infection within the facilities is less than 1 percent.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says money was set aside for the VA to avoid any supply issues. Now, he wants to see where the money is going.

“Now give us a report … about how you’re using it, but [also] what is your experience in getting the personal protective equipment that our medical professionals need,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine say they also want the VA to provide flexibility to workers by providing paid administrative leave if they must self-quarantine.

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