Veterans Affairs Says FEMA Diverted 5 Million N95 Facemasks, ‘Austerity Levels’ Result

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The chief of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) finally admitted N-95 masks his agency ordered vanished, “I had 5 million masks incoming that disappeared.”

The Washington Post reported Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of VHA, not only admitted the masks “disappeared,” but that the agency was forced to move to “austerity levels” at some medical centers and hospitals.

“The supply system was responding to FEMA,” said Stone, a former combat surgeon and former Army deputy surgeon general. “I couldn’t tell you when my next delivery was coming in.” The masks were reportedly diverted for the nation’s emergency stockpile.

After complaining to FEMA, Secretary Robert Wilkie was able to secure back 500,000 masks last week for his agency, as well as a comparable amount the week before. But the health care system uses 200,000 masks per day.

You do the math.

The mask shortage has forced some VA locations to get creative.

Some clinicians are cobbling together damaged masks including re-stapling new head straps when they break or using 3-D printers to create new masks.

Before the pandemic, the agency generally kept a 4-week supply of equipment on the shelves of its 170 medical centers. The resources were generally stored in anticipation of hurricane responses or similar short-lived emergencies.

It’s safe to assume the agency was not equipped for a long-term pandemic scenario.

Nonetheless, by the end of last week, the agency reported only 400 deaths among its 9 million enrolled veterans, which seems relatively small given its disproportionate number of disabled, high-risk patients and the elderly population.

I am hopeful Secretary Wilkie will do right by the veterans and frontline clinicians providing care during this difficult time. No organization or state has the right number of resources.

Hopefully, 3M gets its tail in gear so VA does not resort to buying its masks from China, like California just did.

RELATED: California Buys 200 Million Masks Per Month From China

This report comes on the back of another report pushed by Associated Press in a number of articles hyping a study into the use of hydroxychloroquine at VA on some elderly veterans.

I plan to touch on the recent Associated Press push in opposition against use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with other treatments to address COVID-19 in veterans in a separate article this week.

Some of you may have noticed I have not written anything this month.

We had to shut down and relocate my physical office due to COVID and the Minnesota shutdown. I am now many hundreds of miles south of Minnesota with my family on a family farm while this all sorts out.

Source: Washington Post

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