As Harvey moves eastward, VA sites collaborate to maintain operations



HURRICANE HARVEY UPDATE: For more information about the impact on VA facilities and services, click here.

HURRICANE HARVEY UPDATE: For more information about the impact on VA facilities and services, click here.

As Harvey and its torrential downpours pull away from Houston taking its destruction eastward, VA and numerous federal agencies continue to coordinate recovery efforts to care for those affected by the storm.

“We’re watching the situation very closely and obviously coordinating with FEMA and other federal agencies,” said VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, during a podcast interview yesterday, “but there are well over a half million Veterans being impacted severely by this storm.”

Image of the DeBakey Medical CenterLeading VA’s care efforts in the middle of the devastation is the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, which remains open for emergent medical care for those Veterans who can make it to the facility despite heavy flooding and closed roadways.

“Our VA hospital in Houston has continued to operate and fully function,” Shulkin said. “We have about 400 Veterans currently in the hospital.  Many Veterans in the area that lost their homes and are experiencing medical problems have come to the hospital, so we maintain open operations in emergency rooms.  We have about staff who have just been there since Friday evening and continue to do miraculous work and show their dedication.”

Today in Houston, a medical team from San Antonio and the South Texas VA Health Care System arrived to provide relief to medical workers who have been onsite since Friday. Twenty nurses from the Dallas VA and 36 team members from the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System also reported to Houston to provide Veteran care.

Also in Houston, the Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic reopened for those Veterans located on the western side of the city. However, the following clinics remain closed due to flooding as well as patient and staff safety.

  • Beaumont: Closed
  • Conroe: Closed
  • Galveston: Closed
  • Katy: Closed
  • Lake Jackson: Closed
  • Richmond:  Closed
  • Texas City: Closed
  • Tomball: Closed

For those Veterans who do not have urgent medical needs, please stay in safe location and heed the guidance of local officials. VA will contact you to reschedule your appointments once weather conditions improve. In the meantime, Veterans in the affected area may also call the Telecare Call Center at 1-800-639-5137 (713-794-8985) for any medical issues or questions, or use MyHealtheVet secure messaging.IMAGE: A VA pharmacist

VA also activated the Pharmacy Disaster Relief Plan in the impacted areas. Eligible Veterans with a VA ID Card needing an emergency supply of medications will be able to go to any CVS or HEB pharmacy with a written prescription or active VA prescription bottle to receive a 14-day supply.  Veterans needing assistance in the impacted areas can also call the Heritage Health Solutions Veterans Help line at 1-866 265-0124 to speak to a representative.

Stay informed

For updates for the following VA facilities visit the websites below:

The following Vet Centers currently remain closed:

  • Houston Southwest – Closed Wednesday
  • Beaumont  – Closed Wednesday
  • Harris County/Spring – Closed Wednesday

The McAllen VA Mobile Vet Center is in Corpus Christi to offer counseling services to Veterans and the community affected by Hurricane Harvey. Veterans can find the Mobile Vet Center at the Corpus Christi VA Specialty Clinic, 205 S. Enterprise Parkway, Aug. 30 – Aug. 31 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., though times may adjust. Other Mobile Vet Centers are standing by to mobilize.

For 24-hour Vet Center assistance, call  1-877-WAR-VETS.

For more on the federal government’s response, visit https://www.usa.gov/hurricane-harvey.

Author

Gary Hicks

  is a public affairs specialist and serves as the senior writer in the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. He is a former managing editor of a daily newspaper and served in both the Army and Air Force prior to joining VA in 2006. Gary’s wife is an Air Force Senior NCO stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

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