The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) emergency management officials are actively monitoring Hurricane Irma as it continues its general path toward South Florida.

Due to anticipated severe weather associated with the storm, the Bay Pines VAHCS will transfer approximately 100 medical/surgical and psychiatry patients currently admitted for care at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center to the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Orlando VA Medical Center, and Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville. This transfer will occur today, Saturday, September 9.

This transfer activity is not a full evacuation. Inpatient operations and essential staffing levels will be maintained through duration of the storm.

Family members of impacted Veterans will be contacted by VA staff to be informed about the transfer, transfer location, and contact information for the receiving facility. In the event a family member cannot be reached prior to the transfer, the Bay Pines VAHCS has established a Family Information Line. Family members who have questions about the location of their loved ones can call 727-398-6661, extension 17086.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are moving the most acute and vulnerable patients out of our medical center to sister VA facilities located in safer areas,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS. “Overall safety and ensuring Veterans can continue receiving vital health care services is our primary focus,” she said.

Changes in operational status previously communicated are listed below. All remain in effect.

  • C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center – All outpatient services will be closed Saturday, September 9 – Monday, September 11. The hospital was placed on divert status starting at 12:00 p.m., Friday, September 8 – Monday, September 11, 2017. Patient visitations at the hospital are not permitted starting at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, September 9, – Monday, September 11. Employees required to work at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center over the weekend are asked to park in the parking garage and in Parking Lot #16. To reference the campus map, please visit:
  • Outpatient Clinics –The Lee County Healthcare Center and all Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), to include clinics located in Bradenton, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Sebring and St. Petersburg, will be closed Saturday, September 9 – Monday, September 11. This includes the previously announced closure of the Naples CBOC on Friday, September 8.

All clinics and services impacted by closures are expected to be reopened or restored by Tuesday, September 12, unless communicated otherwise. For updates on the operational status of all Bay Pines VAHCS facilities, please visit:

Veterans impacted by closures will be contacted by VA staff to reschedule their appointments as soon as possible. In the event of a medical and mental health emergency, Veterans are encouraged to dial 911 or visit the closest emergency room. Please note that the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System is not a designated hurricane shelter. This includes the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center and all satellite clinics. To view a list of designated hurricane shelters by county, please visit:

In addition, VA has activated the Pharmacy Disaster Relief Plan through Heritage Health. Eligible patients with Veterans Health Identification (VHIC) in need of an emergency supply of medications can go to any retail pharmacy open to the public with a written prescription or active VA prescription bottle, not older than 6 months and with refills available, to receive a 10 day supply.  This does not include controlled substances.

If a VA patient is displaced, has lost medications, or no longer has a written prescription or bottle, he or she can contact the Heritage Health Customer Care Line at 1-866-265-0124, option 1. Heritage operating hours during Hurricane Irma are Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.

Veterans, their beneficiaries and caregivers may also contact the VA’s Health Resource Center Disaster Hotline at 1-800-507-4571, regarding VA health benefits, eligibility, billing and pharmacy-related inquiries, during the storm period.

Visit to learn about disaster preparedness kits, family emergency plans, and more. Florida State Hurricane information can be found at

VA’s VAntage Point blog has the latest information on hurricane impact to VA facilities and services. For those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, click here. For information on Hurricane Irma, click here. For the latest on VA’s response, read more here on VAntage Point.

Share this story

Published on Sep. 9, 2017

Estimated reading time is 3.7 min.

Views to date: 83

More Stories

  • VA has extended the presumptive period for qualifying chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans.

  • VA announced today two major decisions related to presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange and particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia.

  • VA's National Cemetery Administration (NCA) last week announced it would lift all restrictions on gathering sizes at committal and memorial services in VA national cemeteries starting on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.