Nearly two dozen Veterans Administration emergency rooms and urgent care centers ran so low on personal-protective equipment while battling the coronavirus this year, that the gear had to be rationed, according to a new report.
Some facilities ran so low on N-95 masks, workers were limited to one new mask per week unless it became soiled, the VA’s Office of Inspector General — an internal watchdog agency — reported.
Two facilities ran out of some gear entirely, the report said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
For its investigation, the IG office surveyed the directors at a sample of 49 emergency rooms and 14 urgent care centers, asking them about their experiences from March to July.
“The emergency department director at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center in West Virginia and urgent care center director at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Ga., both responded affirmatively when asked by VA OIG staff during the interviews if their facilities ran out of personal protective equipment,” a spokesman for the inspector general told the paper.
Veterans Administration officials, including at the hospitals said to have run out of PPE, called the IG report inaccurate.
““The IG report is wrong. Our records do not indicate that we ever ran out of PPE for staff or Veterans,” said Lauren Winebrenner, spokeswoman for the VA facility in Martinsburg, W.Va.
A spokesman for the Dublin, Ga., center said the center had never run out of equipment.