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Approximately 35 medical patients from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have arrived in Shreveport, Louisiana, via a dozen military aircraft or smaller private planes, since Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
Upon arrival, patients were transported to local hospitals across the community. Patient demographics ranged from infants to senior citizens, with a wide range of medical needs. Some family members accompanied their loved ones.
The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center was tasked by the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) with coordinating patient reception and triage, and assisting in the relocation of patients to Shreveport-area hospitals.
Patrick Card, this region’s VA area emergency manager, said the missions are updated each day. “We typically don’t find out how many patients will be arriving until two or three hours beforehand, which means we are on standby 24/7. We stand ready to continue this operation until the need no longer exists,” Card said.
“Our VA staff appreciates the seriousness of this situation for those patients in dire need of medical care and they are working tirelessly to ensure that the transition from the aircraft to the appropriate medical facility is completed seamlessly. In some situations, there is not a minute to waste,” said Zachary Sage, VA’s acting director in Shreveport.
In addition to the region’s emergency management staff, VA social services and business office employees are playing a vital role in these efforts. “We have teams rotating in 12-hour shifts in support of these relief efforts,” said Sage.
The NDMS is a federal coordinated initiative that augments the nation’s emergency medical response capability through a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Department of Defense.
About the Author: Mary K. Gominger is a public affairs office with the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Louisiana