VA chief says Phoenix center is handling coronavirus

Jun 29, 2020, 2:00 PM
(Getty Images/Christian Petersen)...
(Getty Images/Christian Petersen)
(Getty Images/Christian Petersen)

PHOENIX – The Phoenix VA, once mired in a scandal of long wait times to see a doctor, is keeping up with patient care during the coronavirus crisis, the nation’s top Veterans Affairs official said Monday.

“Phoenix VA is fine right now,” Robert Wilkie said on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

President Donald Trump’s secretary of Veterans Affairs is scheduled to visit the Valley’s site later in the day.

“We got on this early [the department set up its first emergency operations center at the end of January],” he said of the VA health care system’s response plan to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We have not had a perceptible problem in terms of having beds available or in terms of massive numbers of veterans being impacted,” Wilkie said.

As of Monday morning, there were 74,533 cases in Arizona, based on the state health department’s incomplete daily report.

The Arizona Department of Health Services said a lab partner did not meet the daily data submission deadline but expected the numbers to be caught up with Tuesday’s report.

Wilkie said one of the reasons the VA has been able to tamp down the numbers is because everyone in a VA nursing home is tested.

“That’s why we have such a low rate of infection amongst our 7,500 nursing home residents,” he said, adding as of Sunday there were 11 positive tests overall at the homes.

Outside of the nursing homes, not everyone who wants a test gets one, Wilkie said.

“We test veterans when they need it,” he said, pointing out that the agency recently began using rapid testing and has tested “hundreds of thousands of veterans.”

Wilkie said telehealth was going to play a big role in the future of medicine for veterans, particularly those struggling emotionally.

In the next few years, he said, a partnership with Walmart will put telehealth clinics in stores’ pharmacy areas, including Arizona.

“Veterans can come in and talk to our doctors, our specialists – that’s the wave of the future. Keep people out of clinical settings, put them in a comfortable environment.”

Wilkie said there hadn’t an increase in veteran suicides during the isolation of the outbreak.

“I think that goes with any crisis in this country, be it an economic crisis [or] a medical crisis. People tend to look after after their neighbors more carefully.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Screenshot)...

Watch: Maricopa County meets to canvass 2022 general election

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is meeting to canvass the 2022 general election. The livestreamed meeting includes public comments.
11 hours ago
Drummer Lars Ulrich (L) and frontman James Hetfield of Metallica perform at Allegiant Stadium on Fe...
Kevin Stone

Metallica to invade State Farm Stadium with pair of ‘No Repeat’ shows in 2023

Nothing else will matter for metro Phoenix metalheads next year when Metallica brings a double shot of headbanging to State Farm Stadium.
11 hours ago
FILE - An election worker verifies a ballot on a screen inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office...
Associated Press

Arizona counties face deadline to certify 2022 election

PHOENIX (AP) — Six Arizona counties must decide Monday whether to certify 2022 election results amid pressure from some Republicans not to officially approve a vote count that had Democrats winning for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide races. Election results have largely been certified without issue in jurisdictions across the country. That’s not been […]
11 hours ago
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)...

Man found shot, dead inside car parked on Phoenix street

A man with a gunshot wound was found dead inside a vehicle Sunday in Phoenix and police said they're investigating the case as a homicide.
11 hours ago
(Facebook photo / Phoenix Police Department)...
SuElen Rivera

Interim Phoenix police chief unveils 4-part plan to improve department

Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan announced last week a four-pronged plan to reduce and prevent crime in the city.
11 hours ago
Follow @KTAR923...

Ice skating returns to downtown Phoenix at CityScape

Skaters can waltz around the downtown Phoenix rink as CitySkate returns just in time for the holidays this week.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
VA chief says Phoenix center is handling coronavirus