The VA has been managing the COVID-19 crisis aggressively by increasing nursing staff, making preparations for a fall resurgence, and taking other preventive measures to keep Veterans safe during the pandemic, Department of Veterans Affairs Sec. Robert Wilkie said during a phone call with Military and Veteran Service Organizations (MSO/VSO).
A total of 28,000 Veterans have been infected and 1,700 have died due to COVID-19, while 5,700 have recovered.
Wilkie said the VA is stockpiling resources and bulk shipping PPE equipment to all VA hospitals in preparation for a resurgence in the virus expected in the fall. He encouraged those who are not feeling well to do their part and not come to the hospital, and instead call the crisis hotline so they can come and get them.
The VA has increased the number of nurses at the VA to 110,000, an increase of 20,000 in the last four months, and hiring will continue, Wilkie said.
“They are the heroes at the VA during this crisis,” he said.
Public hearings have been postponed due to the pandemic, and the VA will work to reschedule them virtually. A total of 3,000 virtual hearings per month are being conducted right now with 15,000 hearings postponed. As a result, many hearings will be postponed to the second quarter of 2021.
The VA has conducted 150 interviews with Veterans to ensure that they are maintaining their quality of care throughout the crisis, and the Veteran Health Administration is increasing video conference access by 20 percent.
MAIN PHOTO: CHICAGO, Ill. (June 5, 2020) Hospitalman Recruit Yavir Berrios-Santiago, assigned to Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, collects a nasal swab from a Naval Station Great Lakes Recruit Training Command employee during drive-through COVID-19 screening at Lovell FHCC in North Chicago, Ill. Recruit division commanders (RDCs) and other RTC staff are tested regularly to help control the spread of COVID-19 in the recruit population. FHCC offers drive-through testing to make the process as easy as possible for its RTC patient population. Lovell FHCC is the first and only federal health care center that integrates Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs medical care in to a single combined mission. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Caylen J. McCutcheon/Released)