VA traditionally provides Veterans’ healthcare, benefits and memorial affairs. In times of national crisis, such as the current Coronavirus pandemic, VA provides services to the nation based on requests from individual states, while putting Veterans first. This is known as VA’s Fourth Mission.
This support is approved after a determination is made that care to Veterans will not be disrupted. Support includes caring for individuals who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age or pre-existing medical conditions.
NAVAHCS has supported VA’s Fourth Mission throughout Arizona in the following ways:
Early in the pandemic, NAVAHCS sent eight Registered Nurses (RNs) to support Native Americans in Tuba City, AZ.
NAVAHCS assisted community living centers throughout Northern Arizona with COVID testing.
NAVAHCS sent 16 of their health care workers to provide support at Phoenix and Tucson VAMCs. Staff also cross trained to cover surge capacity for NAVAHCS in-patient units detailing over 28 percent of voluntary clinical staff to support these efforts.
During annual Public Service Recognition Week, NAVAHCS employees organized the Hopi-Tewa Donation, a food drive for Native American Veterans in Northern Arizona. VA employees collected, boxed, and delivered over $50,000 of food, bottled water and household cleaning supplies to 80 Hopi Tribe and Arizona Tewa families affected by the pandemic.
“We are committed to supporting our communities who have been hard hit during this crisis,” said Jean Gurga, NAVAHCS Interim Medical Center Director. “Our employees quickly stepped up to help mobilize staff to augment Arizona VA facilities in Phoenix and Tucson. I couldn’t be more proud to lead such an exceptional team of professionals through this challenging time.”
States may request assistance from the federal government through their local Department of Health and Human Services’ regional emergency coordinator (REC) as part of FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center. Counties, cities and other municipalities should route all requests for federal support through their respective states.
The NAVAHCS is one of eight VA Desert Pacific Network Healthcare Systems serving 1.5 million Veterans in Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California.