gettyimages 839967884 Historic floods cant close Houston VAMC

HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 27: A Jetski is used to help people evacuate homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

by Jonathan Kaupanger

“We never close. No matter what!”

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in Houston, Texas has a current operating status of open– even though the roads around the medical center are blocked due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

“Unless there’s catastrophic flooding in the Medical Center, we never close,” the medical center’s Communications Director, Maureen Dyman, said.

Dyman said the medical center has about 300 inpatients right now. Staff members have volunteered to remain on site and take care of the patients until normal operations resume at the hospital.

“We’ve been in contact with all of our veterans who are in need,” she said.  “Some staff members have waded out in waist or chest high water to check on our vets.  Everyone is okay for now.”

All three of the area’s Vet Centers and seven out of nine of the VA’s outpatient Clinics are closed due to flooding. Only Conroe and Lufkin clinics are open.  The VA’s Outpatient Clinics in Beaumont and Tomball are expected to open tomorrow.

Over the weekend, the Houston VAMC call center was closed because of the storm, but calls were forwarded to the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. At one point, the Little Rock call center was inundated with 256 calls in one hour.

“They can be something as simple as a medication refill to a real emergency,“ said call center supervisor Pat Kloske, who is normally the Specialty Clinics nurse manager at the Little Rock VAMC.

Phones at MEDVAMC are back to working now. “We are asking people to follow the guidance of their local authorities, but if you have any questions, you can call the medical center’s main line at 713-791-1414 and speak to a nurse,” said Dyman.

Vets who would like to reschedule appointments can use the MyHealtheVet Secure Messaging or can call telecare at 713-794-8985, but it is requested that people wait a couple days before trying to reschedule their appointments.

For facility status, you can check the MEDVAMC website here.


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