(WKRG) — In a press release sent out Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin announced that the VA is making beds available to non-Veteran nursing home residents affected by Hurricane Irma.
This announcement comes after the new reports Wednesday that eight residents of a Florida nursing home died from what appeared to be heat exposure, likely caused by faulty air conditioning at their facility in Hollywood Hills.
Secretary Shulkin has been working with Florida Governor Rick Scott and Senator Bill Nelson and their staffs on this issue since Wednesday evening.
“We thank Governor Scott and Senator Nelson for involving VA and are grateful we can help our fellow citizens where we can in this time of need,” said Shulkin. “All Americans are pulling together to help one another, and we must make a special effort for those most vulnerable to the conditions brought on by the storm.”
VA has the ability to make its facilities available to non-Veterans as part of its fourth mission to support national, state and local emergency management, public health, safety and homeland security efforts and also through a mission agreement with FEMA under a Stafford Act Declaration.
Secretary Shulkin agreed to make more beds available to non-Veteran nursing home residents as needed and free, while ensuring they continue the primary mission of providing healthcare to Veterans.
The VA is also working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the overall response to Irma, in addition to this specific issue.
“We will continue to look for ways to relieve the hardship this powerful storm has caused,” said Shulkin. “Much of the heavy-lifting to recover from the hurricane is still to come and our leaders and staff are determined to find as many ways as we can for VA to help in the response.”
More information on the VA’s response Hurricane’s Irma and Harvey can be found at: https://www.va.gov/