NY Times: The V.A. Prepares to Back Up a Health Care System Threatened by Coronavirus

“The Department of Veterans Affairs, legally designated as the backup health care system in national emergencies, is preparing to absorb the overflow of coronavirus patients from private hospitals if — or when — they become strained to the breaking point. It would be the biggest test the sprawling and sometimes troubled government hospital system has faced.”

The department is experienced in managing an older and vulnerable population, and in many ways, it could be better prepared than the rest of the health care system to take on the task. It has a surplus of beds in many of its 172 hospital centers and a robust number of special rooms for patients with breathing disorders. Leaders at the agency say they have a surplus of supplies that they have been ordering since the beginning of the year…”

“It has played a significant and often vital role in recent years, backing up the strained health care system in Puerto Rico after a hurricane — it had intravenous therapy solutions that other centers did not — and providing mobile units after the 2016 mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The department is one of the many federal coordinating centers that respond to emergencies; it even played a role in the Ebola outbreak.”

“Its problem, though, may be management…”

“Robert L. Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs, was added belatedly to the White House coronavirus task force this month and is rarely visible, other participants said…” Read the full article here.

Source: The V.A. Prepares to Back Up a Health Care System Threatened by Coronavirus – By Jennifer Steinhauer, March 15, 2020. New York Times.

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