JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Some veterans seeking care at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center may see delays in elective surgeries, and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials say the problem is caused by a lack of sterilized equipment available for procedures.

“James H. Quillen VA Medical Center is currently experiencing issues with processing of trays and instruments for surgeries and procedures,” said Dr. Colleen Noe, associate director of the center. “Some elective surgeries and procedures have been delayed out of an abundance of caution.”

While working to solve issues stemming from sterilization equipment, Noe said a limited number of sanitized equipment is available at a given time. New equipment to increase sterilization capacity is reportedly on order by the center.

“This allows us to increase the number of trays that we need to process to get the appropriate instruments sterilized with a quality control check for use in the OR,” Dr. Noe said, referring to the surgery delays. “The safety of our patients is our priority and we’re taking extra precautions to ensure patients are not adversely affected.”

For those that prefer to receive elective procedures more urgently, the VA has begun asking veterans to seek care elsewhere in the community.

“Every surgical case is being reviewed by our surgeons as our teams in Engineering, Sterile Processing and Surgery are working together to address the issues as quickly as possible,” Dr. Noe said. “We are working with each patient to make sure surgery is scheduled within a safe timeframe and sending patients to the community if a delay creates a clinical concern or if the patient prefers not to wait.”

The VA center has not seen a rise in infection cases as of Wednesday, administrators said.

This is a developing story. Details will be updated as they become available.