VA Offers Care, Support to Gulf Coast Vets in Advance of Gustav
Facilities Preparing for Post-Landfall Operations
WASHINGTON (Aug. 31, 2008) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working closely with other federal and local agencies to protect patients, staff and operational capability as the Gulf Coast region prepares for Hurricane Gustav, which is expected to make landfall along the coast near the Texas-Louisiana border sometime Monday.
VA health care facilities throughout the region are moving hospitalized and special needs patients, stocking supplies and preparing to continue operations, whenever possible, during the storm and the recovery period, including the pre-positioning of staff, equipment and supplies in Baton Rouge.
"The health care needs of Gulf Coast veterans don't disappear during the hurricane season," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "We're resolved to continue providing veterans with services whenever possible, and reconstituting services as quickly as possible when they have had to be curtailed because of the storm."
VA medical centers and clinics near the affected area are prepared to absorb any extra patients and will contact their regular patients to reschedule appointments if necessary.
Veterans who receive monthly compensation for disabilities, education, pension or other benefits will continue to receive regularly scheduled payments. VA national cemeteries in the affected areas have activated their emergency response plans and are standing by to reschedule burials if necessary.
VA health care officials in the region are advising patients to come in for urgent care. Veterans who need prescription refills are advised to call in their requests, rather than travel to a VA health care facility.
"Veterans in the affected area who need emergency medical care should considering going to the nearest civilian facility, if they would risk their health by traveling to a VA hospital or clinic," Peake said.
To protect the safety of patients and staff, VA officials have announced the following clinic closure several high-risk facilities through Tuesday, Sept. 2:
* Downtown New Orleans, La., clinic;
* Slidell, La., clinic;
* St. John Parish clinic;
* Houma, La., clinic;
* Mandeville dental clinic;
* Lafayette, La., clinic (closed Tuesday and Wednesday);
* Jennings clinic (closed Tuesday and Wednesday); and
* Beaumont, Texas, clinic (closed until the city's emergency evacuation order is lifted).
VA has moved New Orleans staff to the Baton Rouge area to ensure continued operations of enhanced capabilities at the Baton Rouge clinic.