PHOENIX — The Phoenix VA has confirmed to ABC15 that after a request from the State of Arizona, they are treating COVID-19 patients who are non-veterans.
The request was made the day before Thanksgiving and will go until Christmas Eve, according to a spokesperson with the Phoenix VA.
“At any given time we can take up to four non-veterans and currently today we have a couple non-veterans in our hospital,” said Dr. Leslie Lockridge, Nurse Executive at the Phoenix VA.
JUST IN: I have confirmed that the State of Arizona has requested COVID-19 beds inside the VA hospitals for non-veterans.— Nicole Grigg (@NicoleSGrigg) December 15, 2020
The request was made the day before Thanksgiving and will go until Christmas Eve. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/NKVFBmGYqd
ABC15 is told that it is not usual for the VA to accept non-veteran patients, but it can happen in emergencies as part of The Fourth Mission.
According to Va.org, The Fourth Mission: VA’s “Fourth Mission” is to improve the Nation’s preparedness for response to war, terrorism, national emergencies, and natural disasters by developing plans and taking actions to ensure continued service to veterans, as well as to support national, state, and local emergency management, public health, safety and homeland security efforts.
At this time, the State of Arizona has requested four beds at the Phoenix VA, and three beds at the Tucson VA. The VA has also provided up to nine beds to Indian Health Services. In total, they say they have accepted 31 non-veteran patients.
Here is where the VA is actively responding:
- State of Arizona Bed Request for November 2020. Beds were provided from November 25, 2020 – December 24, 2020
o Phoenix VA Medical Center
· 2 med surge beds
· 2 ICU beds
o Tucson VA Medical Center
· 1 med surge bed
· 2 ICU beds
- Navajo Area Indian Health Services mission using Inter-Agency Agreement with Phoenix and Tucson VA Medical Centers supporting with beds.
o Up to 5 beds: 3 med/surg; 2 ICU beds at the VAMC Phoenix, AZ from Chinle Healthcare Center
o Up to 4 beds – 2 med/surge; 2 ICU beds at VAMC Tucson, AZ. Tucson can support 2 COVID and 2 non-COVID in any mix of the 4 total beds. -From Chinle Healthcare Center
“COVID care is intensive care, there’s a lot of services that wrap around taking of the COVID patients, and those beds are limited,” said Dr. Lockridge.
This is the second time the VA has been requested by the state for additional beds -- the first request came during the summer surge for 13 days.
A spokesperson for the VA said that non-veterans should not directly go to a VA facility for care, “VA will only accept such assignments when they do not negatively impact Veteran care, as taking care of Veterans is always VA’s first priority,” a statement read, “The provision of care to non-Veterans in connection with the public health emergency is coordinated through FEMA.”