Looming hurricane forces closure of VA facilities along the Eastern Seaboard
Military Times - By: Leo Shane III
Some services at Veterans Affairs medical centers in southeastern states remain curtailed or cancelled as Hurricane Dorian lingers in the Atlantic Ocean just off the United States coastline.
The powerful storm, now a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, has been blamed for at least five deaths in the Bahamas over the weekend, and could make landfall in Florida later today. Federal and state emergency management officials have warned residents in the storm’s path to evacuate and make other preparations for high winds, heavy rains and dangerous conditions.
Several Florida military bases have been partially evacuated or closed to non-essential personnel. In addition, since last week, VA officials have been announcing a series of service updates in advance of the storm.
All outpatient appointments have been cancelled for Tuesday and Wednesday for more than 20 clinics in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Officials at the Ralph H. Johnson medical center in South Carolina have cancelled all appointments at the medical center and related clinics for the rest of this week.
Over the weekend, operations at the VA Caribbean Healthcare System resumed normal operating hours as the hurricane traveled north. VA officials have said they anticipate resuming normal operations as the weather system passes by, provided no significant damage occurs.
VA officials at multiple sites said they are “taking all necessary actions to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.”
Veterans from in storm-impacted areas who require immediate assistance can contact the department’s disaster response hotline at 1-800-507-4571. The line is open 24 hours a day, every day.
In addition, the department has activated its Pharmacy Disaster Relief Plan for the affected areas. That program allows veterans who run short on medication to get refills at any retail pharmacy if they cannot access VA services. Families using the program should call 1-800-324-8387 ext. 106526 for more details.
Dorian is the 35th hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean the last 90 years to reach a category 5 designation, with wind speeds over 157 miles per hour. It is expected to be weaker when it makes landfall along the U.S. coast.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FRA.