Surviving the Storms Surviving the Storms - Page 5

"Located in the heart of Hurricane Alley, if there’s one thing the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network is—it’s prepared. "

"I am so proud of our team—the way they pulled together before the storm, moved 23 government cars in 90 minutes, called 80 high risk patients in one day, and kept asking me what else they could do. They cleaned out refrigerators, mopped floors, moved fallen branches and never complained."

Community Support

West Palm Beach VAMC




After the storm passed, those patients were safely returned to the Bay Pines VAMC.

During the height of emergency operations, VA staff deemed essential spent several days “living” at the VA Medical Centers in order to provide seamless care for their patients sheltered-in-place. Family Support Centers were set up inside the hospitals to temporarily house families of essential staff who wanted to be there for their patients, but didn’t want to leave their loved ones behind.

After the storm, damage was assessed, Veterans were contacted to reschedule appointments, and within a week, most VA facilities were operating normally except for those in the hardest hit areas. And there were some very hard hit areas with downed power lines, blocked roads and significant flooding. Over 13 million Floridians lost power, making this the biggest outage in the state and one of the largest in U.S. history.

Disseminating Vital Information

Providing impacted and displaced Veterans and VA employees with vital information on what to do regarding missed medical appointments and procedures, prescription refills and, especially for staff, reporting their status, was a top priority during the storms.

The VA’s Pharmacy Disaster Relief Plan was activated. Eligible Veterans who needed an emergency supply of medications could go to any retail pharmacy open to the public for a refill. The VA National Employee Accountability Hotline was also stood up as a resource for displaced employees to report their status and for Veterans to obtain vital information.

And VISN 8 Telcare, normally an After Hours Nurse Advice Line, began operating 24/7 to assist displaced Veterans and employees alike seeking information.

Information was disseminated using all available communication channels including social media, the internet, and the news media.

To bring services directly to Veterans impacted by the storm, to include VA clinics, several VA Mobile Medical Units, a Mobile Vet Center, and a 33,000 pound Multi-Use Vehicle were deployed to provide primary care, mental health services and mobile command/control capabilities.

The VA’s fourth mission is to provide emergency management support to non-Veterans in times of disaster.

Continues on page 7

The Miami VA Healthcare System provided medical care, services and supplies to the Florida Keys as part of the federal emergency response in Monroe County.

Calvin Williams, a Veteran and former Miami VA Healthcare System Employee, visits with Miami VA nurse Carmen Prieto. Mr. Williams was transported to the Miami VA Community Living Center on Sept. 13 from a local nursing home that lost air conditioning following Hurricane Irma. Miami VA staff visited contract nursing homes in the community to ensure Veterans living there had safe, comfortable living quarters as South Florida recovered from Hurricane Irma. A total of 9 Veterans were transported from community facilities to the Miami VA.

"The staff is full of caring professionals. Your ICU nurses are the best! The entire hospital staff was outstanding during the storm!"

Note of Appreciation from a Miami VA Patient

'In This Together' from page 3