Hurricane Sandy caused untold destruction and chaos up and down the east coast last week, and as we now know, it was poised to hit New York City and New Jersey with special ferocity.

But as the storm gathered strength in the Atlantic last weekend, officials within the New York Harbor Health Care System and the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 3 leadership team made a crucial decision: get the patients out of the Manhattan flood zone before the storms reached the city.  The VISN worked with leadership on the ground to quickly and safely coordinate the transfer of all patients and staff to other hospitals in the network.

“The first priority in these situations is always patient and employee safety,” said Jennifer Sammartino, a public affairs officer for the NY Harbor Healthcare system.

This isn’t the first time a VA hospital director has been faced with a difficult decision to evacuate patients before an emergency situation. Hurricane Irene forced the Manhattan facility to evacuate last year with no issues, Sammartino said. The Hampton VA Medical Center in Virginia also evacuated before the storm, among other facilities.  VA social media continues to play a vital role in getting accurate and timely news to Veterans and employees affected by the chaotic storm.  Sammartino is continuing to update the NY Harbor Healthcare System Facebook page and Twitter feed to keep Veterans and staff abreast of developing conditions. The New Jersey Health Care System has also taken to Twitter to alert Veterans on which facilities are open or closed, allowing for Veterans to pivot to other facilities.

Earlier today, VA’s New York Harbor Healthcare System’s Manhattan facility announced it would remain closed as damage assessment continues. The Brooklyn VA Medical Center and the St. Albans Community Living Center are open and receiving patients.  The New Jersey Health Care System is also open with info about the operations of clinics and local Community Based Outpatient Clinics on their website.  Veterans can call centralized scheduling at 1-877-877-9267 to schedule an appointment at these and other facilities.

Here’s a list of telephone numbers for Veterans to use for information on general health questions, appointments, and for medication refills:

For medical emergencies, please dial 911.

Emergency prescription refills: Go to a big chain drug store with your VA Id card and prescription bottle and ask the pharmacist to call Heritage Health Solutions Customer Care Center at 1-866-265-0124, representative will qualify the request by asking a few questions. No controlled drugs will be processed under this program. If a controlled drug is needed, please contact the Brooklyn VAMC Emergency Department.

VA Nurse Help Line: Call 1-866-940-2877 to speak to a registered nurse if you experience any symptoms or have any health related questions.

Centralized scheduling: Call 1-877-877-9267 for questions about an appointment at the Manhattan VA or to schedule an appointment.

Mental health help desk: 718-836-6600 extension 3742

Pharmacy call center: 631-863-4832

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Published on Nov. 5, 2012

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 102


  1. Guy Manningham November 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    It is times like these we as a nation should come together and help the people devastated by this storm. Hopefully the local NY & NJ powers that be will stop turning away non-union workers and food aid.

  2. Tim Battenburg NP-C November 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    All VA providers standing together.

  3. Tim Battenburg NP-C November 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Keep up the good work out there at the New York City and New Jersey VA facilities. Our thoughts are with you out here on the West Coast.

  4. Halrow November 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    The picture above looks like the 23 rd street facility,thats does sit close to the waterway.
    It sadly appears to look like many windows are blown out. The Brooklyn campus
    though open is located on the waterway next to Fort Hamilton reaching under the
    Verrezano Bridge….Its close to the water but apparently not much affected…Nice
    people over there if the veteran is nice and respectful….President Obama said in
    referance to Veterans Comp and medical needs via the VA facilities,that he will work hard
    to speed up the tremendous claims and benefits Backlog.That every veteran who earned
    his benefits through honerable service to the country ,will be able to have medical and other
    earned benefits ..VA info mentions 2015 as a year to finish veterans earned benefit
    claims….I believe though not said by the president ,that he would think 2015 is not
    acceptable and in fact is harmful to needy vets with timely medical issues. President
    Obama is very very PRO veterans and helping them vigerously….Ofcorse the VA
    and current personel must cooperate with full capacity,something i think having gone
    via the system ,needs to be addressed at VA meetings….Just my own opinion.

  5. Halrow November 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    The Brooklyn Campus of the VA is open,You can go there or call
    and ask to speak to an NSO….If you drive ,then a right turn on 86th street and
    7th ave will led you right past Fort Hamilton to the Brooklyn Campus…Plenty
    of Parking with your veterans ID card. good luck !

  6. Steve November 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

    The lads and Lasses in the NY area are doing a great job! They are still delivering excellent healthcare to our Veterans in a very difficult time. Our thoughts here in the midwest are with our comrades and co-workers in the devasted areas!

  7. Saverio Madeo November 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Trying to reach state representative on 718-447-8787 to schedule a meeting about a claim #059-359j. I can’t reach anyone @ this facility.

Comments are closed.

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