(CNN)The Department of Veterans Affairs has been forced to find alternative ways to ship mail-order prescriptions for patients whose medication is delivered by the United States Postal Service, including FedEx and UPS, CNN has learned.
The VA acknowledged the change in an email to a veterans group called Disabled Vets of America after it raised the issue on behalf of patients who had reported significant delays in receiving medication from USPS in recent weeks amid a nationwide slowdown, according to a copy of the correspondence reviewed by CNN.
"The VA has now confirmed to us that the United States Postal Service (USPS), which is responsible for delivering about 90% of all VA mail order prescriptions, has indeed been delayed in delivering these critical medications by an average of almost 25% over the past year, with many locations experiencing much more significant delays," the group's national commander, Stephen Whitehead, said in a statement Monday.
"To help mitigate these postal delays, the VA has been forced to switch to alternative delivery services in a number of areas across the country and is taking other actions to expedite processing and delivery of prescriptions," Whitehead added.
Those areas include Detroit, parts of New York and New Jersey, which were identified as hotspots with delivery delays, according to the VA email to veterans group, which was reviewed by CNN.
The VA "proactively converted from USPS to United Parcel Service (UPS) 2nd day air for those areas until service levels could be returned," the email says. The department also identified a "delivery service issue with UPS in the Arizona area and converted to Fed-Ex for roughly 5-weeks until service levels were restored with UPS," it adds.