VA Says It's Providing a COVID-19 Test to Any Employee Who Asks. Employees Say That's Not True.
May 29, 2020
Veterans Affairs Department employees across the country are disputing a claim VA leadership made to Congress on Thursday that any employee who wants a COVID-19 test—for any reason—could get one.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday. ANDREW HARNIK/AP
Government Executive heard from employees at a dozen VA facilities in as many states who said the department was not offering widespread testing for the disease related to the novel coronavirus. In most cases, they said, only symptomatic workers could receive a test. That reality falls in sharp contrast to the situation described by VA’s top leaders.
“We also have testing available for our employees,” Jennifer MacDonald, VA’s chief consultant to the deputy undersecretary for health, said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday. “Any employee who is symptomatic, who is concerned they have been exposed or requests a test is able to receive that.”
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie added VA was no longer experiencing any shortage of testing. “We do have an adequate testing at this point,” he said.
Employees, however, said their experience runs counter to those claims.
“That is absolutely not a true statement at my facility,” said one Ohio-based VA nurse. “If you’re symptomatic, that’s the only way [to get a test].”
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