Department of Veterans Affairs

Veteran Tested Positive for Coronavirus Treated Inside San Diego VA Hospital Not on VA List

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The San Diego Democratic Chair who tested positive for coronavirus has told NBC 7 and posted on social media that he is being treated at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System hospital in La Jolla.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is the first known veteran to be hospitalized and treated at the San Diego VA for COVID-19. Rodriguez-Kennedy, a Marine veteran, posted on social media over the weekend that he was in the intensive care unit at the VA hospital, though the hospital has not yet confirmed any inpatient cases of the disease.

According to the U.S. Veterans Affairs website updated on March 23, there were three veterans in the San Diego completing in-home quarantine. There was no mention of a veteran being an inpatient.

NBC 7 has reached out to the VA to clarify the status of the number of veterans, or people, who have tested positive in their care in San Diego but did not hear back by the time of this publication.

"I am currently in the ICU and had a rough first night…though the medical team here has been doing an amazing job and I am in the best care," he said on March 21.

NBC 7's Ramon Galindo has the latest details.

NBC 7 previously reached out to the VA San Diego Healthcare System after the Veterans Health Administration unions expressed concern about the VA’s preparations to handle coronavirus patients.

A statement to NBC 7 said in part, "We health care workers in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system, deeply dismayed by the lack of preparations, planning, and communications so far in response to COVID-19, are calling on VHA management to work with us to ensure the nation’s VA health facilities can safely handle COVID-19."

The union said they need optimal staffing, personal protective equipment, supplies, communication and education.

General health care workers told NBC 7 they were also concerned about the proper maintenance of limited isolation rooms.

The San Diego VA Medical Center said they have nine such rooms and can convert more.

A Veterans Affairs spokesperson told NBC 7 in a statement, "As America deals with COVID-19, VA has proactively implemented appropriate measures to ensure the safest health care environment for each Veteran, visitor and employee."

Over 86,00 veterans use VA medical centers in San Diego and Imperial counties, according to their website.

The VA told NBC 7 they have put safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Veterans should call before coming in and are being screened when they arrive.

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