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Spokane VA hospital unable to sterilize instruments for surgeries, dental procedures

Elizabeth Parker, a disabled veteran, will have to wait another month to have her broken tooth fixed due to the issue at the Spokane VA.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Dental procedures and surgeries at the Spokane veterans hospital have been impacted by a problem with sterile processing.

Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center Public Affairs Officer Bret Bowers said sterile processing was impacted due to work on the hospital’s $22 million boiler plant project. Bowers said the boiler in the building is from 1949, when the hospital was first built.

Sterile processing cleans equipment used during medical procedures. Bowers said this mostly impacts dental and surgical procedures.

Elizabeth Parker, a disabled veteran, told KREM 2 she was scheduled to have a broken tooth fixed Friday at the VA hospital. She said it was canceled and rescheduled for the end of July. 

"I'm upset. I realize stuff happens but I would imagine they would have a back up plan to make sure people can get to their appointments," she said.

Parker said she's already waited seven weeks to get her tooth fixed and now she's worried it might get infected.

"No one should have to wait four months to get a crown," she said. 

Bowers said crews are doing emergency repairs. They are expected to be fully operational by Wednesday. He said this is a temporary issue. 

Bowers said the Spokane VA can coordinate care with other VA facilities in the northwest and call upon partnering physicians to help treat patients.  

The project is expected to be completed in late 2020 or early 2021.   

RELATED: VA cancels plans for $15 million mental health building in Spokane