Medical staff from the Department of Veterans Affairs are deploying to areas of the country hardest hit by the coronavirus.
Activating the Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) is the latest step in VA's coronavirus pandemic plan and could play a role in VA fulfilling its fourth mission -- to serve as a backup for the American healthcare system in times of national emergency.
VA staff volunteer to be part of DEMPS, according to the department and VA is still looking for more fully credentialed volunteers to reinforce staffing at the VA medical facilities in New Orleans.
VA needs staff with experience in intensive care and medical or surgical wards, along with biomedical technicians with experience using ventilators and other staff to help support the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System as it responds to COVID-19.
"This is a normal and routine part of VA's response to both local and national disasters," VA said in a news release Friday.
Volunteers are needed to care for patients in "high-risk areas," VA said.
Any VA employees who complete a 14-day, in-person DEMPS deployment "will be offered a $5,000 award for their service," the department said.
“VA has great medical personnel throughout the nation supporting our veterans battling COVID-19,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “Some of our facilities need additional assistance and that’s why VA is taking a variety of prudent actions to properly staff for this emergency. The activation of DEMPS will help one of our facilities in a very challenging area have the additional staff they need to care for our nation’s veterans.”
VA has a guide for veterans on coronavirus, which includes the request that veterans who believe they are ill should call their local VA before they show up to the hospital.