LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System continues to help hospitals in Texas by taking phone calls and preparing to receive patients.
The Little Rock temporary call center has taken over 14,500 phone calls since Friday from patients in need of assistance in Texas. The center hands off the phone calls to the Jackson, Mississippi facility, but will take calls 24/7 through the holiday weekend.
“Just to allow the Houston staff to focus on other tasks at the hospital, we took the relief of the phones from them,” Spokesperson for the VA Salena Wright-Brown said.
Brown said floodwaters make it difficult for patients and staff to get to hospitals, so help from others states is crucial.
“We’ve got nurses who can offer assistance on the phone. We also have pharmacists on the help lines who can assist with prescriptions,” Wright said.
The VA also sent a six person team Thursday to staff and care for patients in VA hospitals in the Houston area. Two critical care nurses, one critical care nurse assistant, two repertory therapists and a dialysis specialist are on their way.
"They will be helping with things like dialysis in the critical care areas. We sent two respiratory therapists and a van load of supplies," she said.
As part of the National Disaster Medical System, the Little Rock VA, along with MEMS, Arkansas Department of Health, area hospitals and local agencies, is prepared to receive patients from areas of Texas devastated by Harvey. A Federal Coordinating Center has been pre-staged at TAC Air, at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
"Little Rock is one the VA facilities across the country who stands ready as a federal coordination center for patient reception in times of disaster," Medical Center Director Margie Scott said.
Patients will be flown to the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport and brought to staging area where they will be assessed and then sent to hospitals in the Little Rock metro area.
"There's about 12 other local hospitals who are participating in that effort as well," Scott said.
The staging area is not yet activated, but the crew is ready to receive patients as soon as they get the call to do so.
"We couldn't work without the entire city and the state of Arkansas pulling together," Scott said.
Personnel, equipment and supplies are in place in a TAC Air hangar and once an activation order is received, the FCC will be fully staffed and operational within an hour, ready to receive, triage and transport evacuated patients.