Hurricane Harvey struck southeast Texas almost two months ago and residents are still working hard to rebuild their homes and get their lives back to normal. Veterans in Beaumont, Texas, one of the areas hit hardest by flooding, have continued to receive their top-quality VA health care since the hurricane, but in a location that is a little unconventional. Veterans are receiving VA healthcare in one of five mobile medical units, set up in the parking lot of the clinic that is currently undergoing repairs.
“After Harvey, our Houston VA leadership came out to assess the damage and help us get up and running as soon as possible,” said Liz Taylor, nurse manager of the Beaumont VA Clinic. “Even though many of our staff members were affected by the Hurricane, a skeleton crew of employees began calling patients right away to make sure they were okay and that their immediate needs were handled.”
VA leadership devised a plan to bring in mobile medical units from around the country and essentially set-up a full-service clinic in the clinic parking lot. After setting up an admin tent, with computer access, and another tent for a blood lab and a waiting area, two mobile medical units and a Mobile Vet Center were brought in right away.
“We are so fortunate in the VA because we have such a robust system and can call upon our VA family for support,” said medical center director Frank Vazquez. “Mobile medical units from areas like Big Spring and Dallas, Texas, and from Jackson, Mississippi, were up and running in Beaumont in a matter of days, providing our patients with much-needed primary and mental health care.”
Currently five mobile medical units are operating in Beaumont and staff are seeing more than 100 patients a day. One of VA’s Mobile Vet Centers is also operational in the parking lot, providing staff with a comfortable space to see Veterans seeking mental health assistance.
“It’s been so rewarding to be able to step up and take care of our Veterans even though our clinic building is not operational,” said Taylor. “Our Veterans have adapted to the mobile medical units surprisingly fast and are getting the care they need in a timely manner,” she said.
David Craig, an Air Force Veteran and long-time patient of the clinic, recently had a clinic appointment and was seen in one of the mobile medical units. “I came in today for my regular six-month check-up and I’m very impressed with what they have set up here,” he said. “I have chosen to receive my healthcare in the Beaumont Clinic since 2005 because of the high-quality I get here.”
The Beaumont clinic building continues to undergo repairs and is slated to reopen in a few short weeks. In the meantime, the Beaumont Clinic’s dedicated staff will continue to serve Veterans in the parking lot of the clinic.
“I am so proud to be a part of the VA,” said Taylor. “It’s been amazing to see our Houston VA staff, our Beaumont VA staff and VA staff around the country come together to make sure that we can take care of our patients, even in the most challenging of circumstances.”
About the author: Maureen Dyman is the communications director at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas.