VA North Texas ER nurses earn Hearts of Gold 24/7

National association honors Dallas VA emergency nurses


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An unplanned trip to an emergency department is never an ideal visit. But the nursing staff of VA North Texas’ emergency department is ready to provide a comforting touch, empathy and professional care to Veterans.

During Emergency Nurses Week, 72 emergency nurses at the Dallas VA were recognized for their Heart of Gold. The Heart of Gold is the Emergency Nurses Association’s theme that honors the incredible heart these critical caregivers have.

Bianca Velazquez-Bonilla is the nurse manager of the Emergency Department for VA North Texas Health Care System.

In the last 12-months, the Dallas VAMC ER nurses have treated 36,358 Veterans, 24-hours a day, 7-days per week. They have also cared for patients in a new Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) that opened in January 2020.

Not enough words to express how vital they are

“Our emergency nurses have done a fantastic job, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bianca Velazquez-Bonilla. She is nurse manager of the Emergency Department. “I’m not sure there are enough words to express how vital these nurses are to patient care and safety for our Veterans.”

Pictured above is Army Veteran Emperatriz Vega-Morales, RN, who looks over the shoulder of Saria Chilton, RN, in the emergency department at Dallas VA Medical Center.

VA North Texas serves more than 135,000 Veterans each year. This is not including the thousands of hours of support for natural disasters around the U.S. when fellow VA facilities need additional manpower and expertise.

“As soon as COVID-19 became an issue, the nurses accepted their role and just did what needed to be done, at the right time, to preserve life,” said Velazquez-Bonilla.

Telehealth Service offered virtual visits

Emergency nurses also provide care to Veterans who can’t come into a busy emergency department. In March 2020, the medical center opened a new emergency medicine telehealth service clinic.

The new clinic offered telephone and virtual visits to those desiring a more sensitive level of physical distancing and care. These patients do not have to leave the safety of their homes. Since its opening, more than 500 patients have used the services through telephone and VA Video Connect visits.

“We have one of the best, most well-trained, emergency departments in the nation. The level of health care and caring we can provide our special population of patients is what sets us apart from the rest,” said Velazquez-Bonilla.


Jennifer Roy is the public affairs specialist for the VA North Texas Health Care System.

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