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Utilization of Healthcare Services after Hurricane Sandy: The Manhattan VA Medical Center and Telehealth

Der-Martirosian C, Yuan A, Dalton S, Dobalian A, Griffin A, Chu K. Utilization of Healthcare Services after Hurricane Sandy: The Manhattan VA Medical Center and Telehealth. Poster session presented at: American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition; 2015 Nov 3; Chicago, IL.


Introduction: Hurricane Sandy caused 157 deaths in the U.S. and tens of thousands of injuries. Approximately 6,300 patients from 37 healthcare facilities evacuated NYC due to flooding and/or had power outages. The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Manhattan evacuated in advance of the storm and temporarily halted all inpatient and outpatient services due to catastrophic flooding. As part of an integrated healthcare delivery system, VAMCs are able to relocate patients from one facility to another during an emergency. We examine how closure of the Manhattan VAMC shifted patient care to neighboring VAMCs in Brooklyn and Bronx. Methods: Using data from VA Corporate Data Warehouse, specifically, visit date and time, facility location, and primary clinic, we present the daily count of patients as well as the proportion of visits compared by six clinic groupings (primary care, specialty care, mental health, ER/urgent care, ancillary diagnostic and telephone care) 12 weeks pre- and post- evacuation of Manhattan VAMC. Results: There was a 50% increase in the use of VA Telehealth services at Manhattan VAMC and only a modest increase (5%) in the use of diagnostic services for both Brooklyn and Bronx VAMCs post-Sandy. Conclusion: In the case of these three VAMCs, Hurricane Sandy shifted both patient load and volume of care. However, we find that patient care shifted in type of care towards Telehealth rather than in geographic location to neighboring VAMCs. These findings highlight the potential for this new technology to improve access to healthcare services during emergencies. Learning Areas: Advocacy for health and health education Other professions or practice related to public health Learning Objectives: Analyze patient load and volumne of care before and after Hurricane Sandy Define Telehealth List potential problems when using Telehealth List positive attributes of using Telehealth Assess the benefits and pitfalls of Telehealth Keyword(s): Emergency Preparedness, Veterans' Health

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