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With Hurricanes Florence and Michael, 2018 was another devastating year of natural disasters. For obvious reasons, hospitals need to stay open, but sometimes hospital staff find themselves unable to make it in. This can lead to insufficient staffing for the patient load, and hospitals can experience a surge in patients, which can quickly overwhelm regular staff. Situations like these are why Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers develop plans to deploy volunteer personnel to augment hospital staff in hard-hit areas.

"Our team is proud to work alongside VHA OEM in this effort to help veterans during a disaster. This latest VHA PIMS application has created efficiencies allowing VHA OEM to see the number of qualified staff for each position from each medical center so they can request volunteers appropriately."

The Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Office of Emergency Management (OEM) plays a vital role in emergency response support to VA Medical Centers. The Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) is the VHA’s main deployment program for clinical and nonclinical staff responding to an emergency or disaster. These volunteer staff provide additional medical services and support to protect and restore veteran care.

In June 2018, ORAU released new functionality to the VHA’s Performance Improvement Management System’s (PIMS), DEMPS Management System (DMS) to support disaster emergency medical personnel deployments. PIMS/DMS provides a platform for the VHA to designate staff position requirements and the distribution of the required positions based on volunteer availability at each VA Medical Center. ORAU staff traveled to Orlando, Florida, to deliver training on the new module to VHA network and medical center emergency managers from across the county.

“Our team is proud to work alongside VHA OEM in this effort to help veterans during a disaster. This latest VHA PIMS application has created efficiencies allowing VHA OEM to see the number of qualified staff for each position from each medical center so they can request volunteers appropriately,” said Mary Connelly, ORAU VHA PIMS project manager. “Many have commented that the system has streamlined the process and saves a lot of work for DEMPS coordinators.”

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

Our Expert

Mary Connelly

Mary Connelly

Manager, Emergency Management Laboratory

Expertise: Emergency management technology solutions, training, exercises, project management

Presenter:

  • National Healthcare Coalition Preparedness Conference, November 2017
  • National Health Preparedness Summit, April 2017

Certification: FEMA Master Exercise Practitioner

Contact us

For information about ORAU’s health communication, preparedness and response needs, contact Freddy Gray, director, Health Communication and Preparedness programs, at 865.576.0029 or freddy.gray@orau.org.