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Martinsburg VA Medical Center


Martinsburg VAMC Steps Up When Needed

Martinsburg VAMC Deputy chief, police service William Blednick stands with other officers who were deployed to Florida for a Hurricane Michael response.

William Blednick, deputy chief, police service, stands with other officers who were deployed to Panama City Beach, Florida to assist with the Hurricane Michael response. From left to right: Patrolman CJ Kardos from Iowa; Sergeant Michael Garcia from Biloxi; Corporal Todd Vogler from Cleveland; Lieutenant Jamie Lamb from Oklahoma City; William Blednick from Martinsburg; and Patrolman Jose Garcia from Biloxi.

By Lauren Winebrenner
Monday, December 3, 2018

The Martinsburg VA Medical Center sent eight employees to areas affected by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew over the last few months, as part of the Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) program.

Not only is providing medical care the top priority as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) looks to establish continuing operations, but there are several other ancillary services that are needed in order to provide the care required such as administration assistance, security and more.

For example, Michelle “Micky” Martin deployed to Durham, North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence to provide timekeeping support as well as other important administrative functions for the Area Emergency Managers. Martin deployed last year to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“The DEMPS volunteers all want to work above and beyond,” said Martin. “Growing up I watched my father, a Vietnam Veteran, service our local community and now I am lucky to be surrounded by other people who also want to help others.”

Robert Cyparski, Pharm.D., BCPS deployed to Puerto Rico last year and this year to Panama City, Florida, one of the hardest hit areas from Hurricane Michael. His duties were to staff the Pharmacy Mobile Unit at the Panama City Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).

“What impacted me most was all of us coming together with other VA employees that we have never met, and working together as one to assist the Veterans impacted by the hurricane,” said Cyparski. “It was the very least I could do for those who have served our country.”

The DEMPS volunteers follow a structure when they arrive to an area that has been hit by a disaster. There are emergency managers, command posts and other ways of organizing around the incident to provide clarity on roles and responsibilities and to follow a set chain of command.

Lisa Longley, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNL was assigned as the Clinical Command Post RN at the Durham VA Medical Center (VAMC), and was responsible for organizing clinical care teams, assigning missions and coordinating care for Veterans in the community. This included sending outreach teams to locate Veterans in community shelters to ensure their medical needs were being met. Longley assisted in facilitating medication and medical supply delivery to Veterans who lost medical resources during the hurricane. The goal was to reach all Veterans in the community, even if they had not received VA care before. Veterans were able to register and have their eligibility determined so their medical needs could be met.

 “The passion the Durham VAMC staff and leadership had for the Veterans was amazing,” said Longley. “I was excited to see that there are other medical centers that are just as passionate about Veterans as we are here at Martinsburg.”

Here is the full list of employees who were activated for DEMPS:

  • Scott Sanders, Firefighter
  • Michelle Martin, Administrative Assistant
  • Robert Rinker III, RN, Medical Advice Line
  • Lisa Longley, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNL, Acting Intensive Care unit Nurse Manager, Acute Care/Critical Care Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Gloria Chemaly, MD, Primary Care
  • Christian Gordon, LPN
  • Robert Cyparski, Pharm.D., BCPS, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in CPC2
  • William Blednick, Deputy Chief, Police Service

We thank and recognize them all for stepping up when other VA facilities needed assistance.



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