Veterans Affairs To Install Biological Decontamination Equipment in Hospitals
The federal government has begun to install biological decontamination equipment at some veterans hospitals, including facilities in Washington, D.C., to help bolster the nation's preparedness for a potential bioterrorist attack, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi said in an interview yesterday, the AP/Salt Lake Tribune reports. Although Congress and the Bush administration will determine the VA's role in bioterrorism preparedness, Principi said that VA hospitals could "treat victims, store and disseminate medicines and offer other health care assistance." Principi said, "We are looking at the large urban areas that may be subject to attack and trying to establish those units in those locations." The plan could cost as much as $200 million, the AP/Tribune reports. In addition, the VA plans to spend $100 million to open four new research centers that would "focus on research and response" to potential chemical, biological and radiological attacks. The centers also would help to educate and train of health professionals and help local health officials with laboratory tests.
In other VA news, Principi said in the interview that he would "consider suspending the VA's policy of open enrollment for all veterans" to help "reduce a backlog of treatment requests and maintain the quality of care" at VA facilities (AP/Salt Lake Tribune, 5/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.