PHX VA surgeries postponed for rest of week

Posted at 11:51 AM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 13:13:24-05

Officials at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System say surgeries have been postponed for the rest of this week because of technical difficulties with the operation room ventilation system.

VA spokeswoman Jean Schaefer says an engineering team will complete a review of the mechanical systems that support the operating rooms before surgeries resume at the Phoenix VA by Feb. 22.

She says a full analysis of the operating room mechanical systems functioning and a certification of the existing system should be completed over the next 2 to 3 days.

Schaefer says patients scheduled for surgery this week are being contacted individually and either rescheduled or offered care through a community partner via the Veterans Choice program.

She says patients who have concerns should call their health care provider.

Veterans advocates are concerned that the operating room closure further delays procedures for veterans at a hospital that's already been plagued by a patient care scandal. 

"Now you are just pushing the process back even further with more delays and trying to reschedule the veterans in the process,"  EnvincibleVets organizer Ricky Barnes said. "They might not get the right proper care they need during surgery procedures. That may be a problem in the near future."

ABC15 visited GateWay Community College Wednesday where hospital workers from across the Valley are trained in sterilization procedures.

"In the operating room, we protect the patient from any outside contamination," said program director Susan Wallen.  "That's why we can't do surgery out on the street because we have to have a certain airflow system that carries the microbes away from the patient."
Wallen says medical facilities would have to suspend surgeries if there was a problem with the ventilation system. This protects patients from infection.
"The loss of time to the patient, to the family, to the surgeon, is thousands and thousands of dollars," Wallen said, "but all in all, it's a huge savings because you are saving a patient's life by taking those precautions."
If you are a veteran who's affected by the operating room shutdown, tell your story to ABC15 at