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VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network
Fayetteville VA Teams Save Day with Water Buffalo
By Steve Wilkins
Thursday, October 13, 2016Reacting to an emergency environmental condition before, during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the Fayetteville VA Medical Center implemented contingency operations, including placement of an alternative water resource to continue health care service to Veterans receiving dialysis treatment throughout the storm event.
The hurricane passed through the Fayetteville, N.C., region Oct. 8-10, unloading up to 18-20 inches of water on the heavily military-connected community. The enormous rainfall is causing after-effects in the form of rising water in surrounding lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
Flooding, which began Oct. 9, immediately compromised the municipal water supply, affecting water drinkability in area VA facilities. VA staff worked hard to mitigate the situation, using thousands of gallons of bottled water in the Fayetteville VAMC and its subordinate Health Care Center. Operations in those facilities are currently on normal level.
The situation significantly affected operations at the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Dialysis Clinic, which depends on continuous supplies of clean water. Logistics, contracting and engineering staff arranged for a mobile water tanker to keep the operation running for Veterans and mitigate a potentially dire situation compromising the organization’s ability to care for Veterans severely at risk due to renal failure. The water flows from the tanker through a portable filtration system, into the clinic where Veterans receive care at 16 dialysis stations, capable of treating up to 32 Veterans daily. This care is critical, to survivability and quality of life for these Veterans.
Getting the truck and apparatus in place so early enabled the clinic to offer treatment to Veterans without skipping a beat. Everything was in place and moving smoothly when Veterans showed up for their treatment, with VA staff completing 29 dialysis treatments Oct. 9 out of the 30 scheduled.
“Through the ingenuity of staff and their dedication to our Veterans, care was provided under the most difficult of circumstances,” said Fayetteville Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby of their efforts, and she praised her staff and others who were working diligently and compassionately to ensure care. “This truly an example of taking care of those who have already taken care of us.”
Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) are now arriving in Fayetteville, being coordinated through the VA’s Veterans Integrated Service Network 6 in nearby Durham, known also as the Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network. The Fayetteville VA falls inside the jurisdiction of the network, which ensures assets can be managed and coordinated conveniently in compliance with applicable VA standards and policies. Using the network system, as well as reaching out to other VA Medical Centers around the country, has allowed for utilization of staff, equipment and supplies in the right amounts at the right time in the right place, so that Veterans continue to receive care when they need it.
“Leadership at the VA Medical Center continues to initiate creative management techniques to circumvent all of the issues challenging the provision of health care to Veterans in the area, as flood waters continue to rise,” said Joe Jenkins, VISN 6 Emergency manager. He said rivers are not expected to crest until Oct. 13 or 14, but flooding has already closed about 100 roads in the area and some dams are in danger of breeching, worsening conditions for the already weather-ravaged region. #hurricanematthew