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Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Inconsistent Documentation and Management of COVID-19 Vaccinations for Community Living Center Residents

While reviewing the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) plans to document receipt and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that VHA facilities did not consistently document the COVID-19 vaccination status of veterans living in VA’s Community Living Centers (CLCs). The OIG determined that VHA could not know at a national level whether the vaccine was offered to some CLC residents, and if so, what their status was. Because CLC residents are in the highest COVID-19 vaccine priority group, they should be offered the vaccine, when possible...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Review of Community-Based Outpatient Clinics Closed Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) closures that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic to evaluate the impact on patient care. The OIG virtually interviewed Veterans Health Administration (VHA) staff at 140 facilities that oversaw the 1,031 CBOCs that were operational prior to the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration. Of these CBOCs, 173 were closed to face-to-face visits on or after February 1, 2020. Reasons for closure fell into four categories including (a) safety of patients and staff, (b) need for consolidation of...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection of Facilities' COVID-19 Pandemic Readiness and Response in Veterans Integrated Service Networks 10 and 20

This Office of Inspector General (OIG) Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection Program (CHIP) report provides a focused evaluation of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 10 and 20 facilities’ COVID-19 pandemic readiness and response. This evaluation focused on emergency preparedness; supplies, equipment, and infrastructure; staffing; access to care; community living center patient care and operations; and facility staff feedback. The OIG has aggregated findings on COVID-19 preparedness and responsiveness from routine inspections to ensure prompt dissemination of information given the...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Potential Risks Associated with Expedited Hiring in Response to COVID-19

This management advisory memo identifies potential risks associated with the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) efforts to expedite adding new staff to meet increased demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) recognizes the tremendous pressure to quickly hire staff to meet unprecedented needs. To achieve VHA’s goal of bringing all new employees on duty within three days of making a tentative offer, VHA has modified or deferred tasks such as fingerprinting, background investigations, drug testing, credentialing, and preplacement physicals. The...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Review of Veterans Health Administration’s Virtual Primary Care Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review to assess Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) virtual primary care response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the use of virtual care by primary care providers and their perceptions of VA Video Connect (VVC) between February 7 and June 16, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic presented significant challenges to health care delivery worldwide. One strategy initiated by VHA, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation to social distance, included expanding the delivery of primary care via virtual care...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Reporting and Monitoring Personal Protective Equipment Inventory during the Pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 drastically increased the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns, and significantly disrupted the global supply chain. As the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) had to compete for PPE for its personnel and patients. The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) received hotline allegations that VHA medical facilities could not acquire and maintain enough PPE to keep pace with escalating needs. The OIG assessed how VHA reported and monitored PPE supply levels during the pandemic. The...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Medication Delivery Delays Prior to and During the COVID-19 Pandemic at the Manila Outpatient Clinic in Pasay City, Philippines

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection to assess allegations related to delayed medication delivery from the VA Manila Outpatient Clinic (clinic) pharmacy in Pasay City, Philippines, prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OIG substantiated a patient experienced medication delivery delays and did not timely receive morphine from the clinic pharmacy in October and November 2019. While the patient requested a renewal in a timely manner, pharmacists could not fill the medication because there was no available stock from the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA)...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Added Measures Could Reduce Veterans’ Risk of COVID-19 Exposure in Transitional Housing

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed the measures taken by the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Homeless Program Office, medical facilities, and community service providers to mitigate COVID-19 risks in transitional housing programs for veterans experiencing homelessness. The OIG found that while transitional housing service providers successfully implemented four of six specific Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 risk mitigation measures, the providers could have strengthened implementation of two others. VHA and service provider staff said the...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Review of Veterans Health Administration’s Emergency Department and Urgent Care Center Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review of the Veterans Health Administration’s response to anticipated demand and use of emergency department and urgent care center services when faced with the possibility of an influx of patients needing evaluation during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey was deployed and 63 emergency department and urgent care center directors were interviewed. The OIG learned there was a decreased number of patient visits to the emergency departments (19.8 percent decline) and to the urgent care centers (28.6 percent decline) for January–June 2020 when...
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Enhanced Strategy Needed to Reduce Disability Exam Inventory Due to the Pandemic and Errors Related to Canceled Exams

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) provides disability benefits to veterans. On April 3, 2020, VBA discontinued all in-person disability exams that help determine the severity of medical conditions and the amount of benefits paid. The OIG conducted this review to assess how VBA scheduled and conducted exams during the pandemic to limit veterans’ exposure, minimize processing delays, and ensure claims were not prematurely denied due to missed or canceled in-person exams. The OIG also evaluated VBA’s strategy for addressing the inventory of delayed...