U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center Director Keith Allen has not been communicative enough with local veterans or congressional leaders about problems ranging from COVID-19 data to postal slowdowns impacting medicine deliveries.

DeFazio made his comments in a letter to Allen on Thursday, and followed that up with a press release in which he urged the director to engage in more robust communications with local Veterans Service Organizations and Oregon’s congressional delegation.

Regular meetings with those groups had been routinely canceled since March, DeFazio said. He also said the VA stopped providing COVID-19 data only a few weeks after it first made the information available.

“There are also ongoing questions around what COVID-19 data is being reported to local public health authorities and the potential consequences of incomplete data for southwest Oregon,” he wrote.

VA spokesperson Tim Parish said in an email that social distancing and other safety precautions have limited routine meetings at almost every organization in the country, and the Roseburg VA is no different.

“Throughout this national emergency, Roseburg VA Health Care System has been laser focused on providing life-saving treatment to Veterans while keeping patients and employees from contracting COVID-19,” he said.

The result, he said, is that just seven Roseburg VA employees — 0.5% of its workforce — and nine veteran patients have been diagnosed with the disease.

Parish also said the VA had maintained near daily contact with county, state and federal response teams. He said the latest VA COVID-19 testing and case information is available online.

He said the VA reports testing results through the Department of Health and Human Services, as every health care facility does.

DeFazio said he had also heard daily from veterans about reductions in mental and dental health services.

But Parish said there have been no reductions in mental health services.

Dental services that aren’t emergencies have been curtailed in order to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, he said.

DeFazio also said veterans were requesting more information about what the impact of U.S. Postal Service changes would be on prescription drug deliveries.

The Postal Service had announced changes that could lead to slowdowns in mail service, prompting concern around the country about both mail-in voting and pharmaceutical delivery. In response to public pressure, it has called a halt to further changes until after the November election.

Parish said the Roseburg VA has not had any reports of medication delivery delays from patients; however, he said veterans also have the option of getting prescriptions filled in person on campus. As of July, prescription delivery averaged 2.86 days, he said. The VA recommends requesting refills at least 10 days ahead.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(5) comments

Mike

The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 0 new coronavirus cases today. However, the Roseburg Veteran’s Affairs reported a 1 new coronavirus case late yesterday afternoon. The Roseburg VA is now reporting a total of 22 cases.

Douglas County reported 9 coronavirus cases in the last week and its 7-day positive test rate has remained at 1.5%.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 29 new coronavirus cases today. There have been a total of 202 cases and 2 deaths in the six counties surrounding Douglas County over the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 289 new coronavirus cases today and 3 more deaths. Oregon has suffered 31 coronavirus deaths over the past week and its 7-day positive test rate has increased to 5.4%.

CitizenJoe

"The result, he said, is that just seven Roseburg VA employees — 0.05% of its workforce — and nine veteran patients have been diagnosed with the disease."

So the Roseburg VA has 14,000 employees? Probably not. Maybe 1400? 7/1400=0.005=0.5%.

Mike

At this point, I wouldn’t believe ANYTHING VA spokesperson Tim Parish says is correct for these reasons:

1. The VA’s national website (below link) indicates 4 employees (not 7) and 18 veterans (not 9) have been diagnosed with the disease.

2. The Oregon Health Authority would have already listed Roseburg’s VA as a workplace outbreak if seven Roseburg VA employees were infected.

https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/Healthcare/COVID19NationalSummary

chicagomike

Thanks for staying on this Mike. Allen, Parish and the gang have all lied and will continue to do so to Veterans, Congressman, Senators. Blame shifting, rather than taking corrective action when problems are Identified is the normal modus operandi. I had initially thought and stated that this Director was the right director, at the right time to finally address the systemic problems that place Veterans health and lives at risk. While that statement is still true, Allen is just another cog in the broken wheel that is the Roseburg VA.

Mike

Roseburg Veteran’s Affairs reported 1 new coronavirus case this afternoon, bringing Roseburg VA's total cases to 22. Of those, 18 veterans were diagnosed with the disease and the remainder were VA employees.

U.S. Veteran’s Affairs has reported a total of 48,896 coronavirus cases and 2,552 deaths nationwide.

Active U.S. Military has reported a total of 51,238 coronavirus cases and 77 deaths.

https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/Healthcare/COVID19NationalSummary

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