(WASHINGTON) — The number of veterans who died after contracting the virus also rose to 27 over the weekend, according to VA records.
The VA has administered more than 13,200 COVID-19 tests throughout its network of hospitals, which are operating under special emergency protocols.
All hospital units were splitting themselves into two zones to isolate coronavirus cases from normal operations, the department announced Friday. VA hospitals have also postponed some non-emergency procedures and elective surgeries to free up space.
A federal watchdog report released last week found VA hospital supplies of medicine used to treat critically ill patients “may be insufficient.”
The same report found holes in about a third of screening processes implemented at hospitals, all of which have closed their doors to visitors. Screening processes at 71% of medical centers were “generally adequate,” and investigators found 28% could be improved.
Over the weekend, the VA announced it was opening its doors to non-veteran patients in New York City to help ease the coronavirus response burden. The activation is part of the VA’s “Fourth Mission,” to serve as the nation’s emergency back-up health care system.
A handful of non-coronavirus patients were directed to the VA New York Harbor Health Care System from overburdened community hospitals, the VA said Sunday.
Last week, the agency said it would rehire retired health care workers to reinforce its response capacity. The VA put out a call to retired physicians, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals to register for re-employment, noting the federal government has waived the typical salary reduction for rehired retirees.
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