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Mobile health units aim to reduce patient backlog at Wilmington VA hospital after Hurricane Florence

September 28, 2018

The Wilmington VA Medical Center health clinic reopened Thursday, but operations have only resumed in part of the building, which suffered significant damage during Hurricane Florence almost two weeks ago.

Damage to the medical structure, which includes a hole in the roof that resulted from a heating and ventilation system that blew off the roof, letting water pour in, has produced a significant backlog of patients who have thousands of appointments to make up.

Local officials hope that a mobile unit will help cut down on the number of people who need medical help by allowing health staffers to treat patients quicker.

“The mobile units are going to be absolutely vital,” said Dr. Richard Trotta, an associate chief of staff for the hospital. “We’ve had about 8,000 canceled appointments over the course of this hurricane relief mission that we have. Richmond and Fayetteville have put these mobile units down here and are going to send emergency medical teams to man them.”

In one of the mobile unit’s exam rooms, the room resembles one at a doctor’s office. Starting Friday, the mobile unit will be staffed by the emergency medical team.

Wadus Clark, a Vietnam War veteran, lost his leg in an accident.

His doctor’s appointment at the clinic was canceled due to damage from Florence. After two weeks of waiting for medial care, he was able to see his doctor again.

“Well, I’m feeling not like a champ, but close to it,” he said. “I’m very happy. I’ve got somewhere to go and someone to look at my complaints.”

In one of the hospital’s exam rooms, it looks like an exam room at a doctor’s office. It’s hard to believe it’s in a mobile unit that will be staffed by an emergency medical team starting Friday.

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