Madison VA Provides Critical Care to Puerto Rico - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital


Madison VA Provides Critical Care to Puerto Rico

December 22, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – The William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital welcomed home the last three volunteers who deployed to Puerto Rico to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts on December 13th.

Since early September, a total of 20 Madison VA employees volunteered for two week deployments to Puerto Rico and Texas to support the national hurricane response as part of the Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS).

Michelle Schmitt, a Program Support Assistant at the Madison VA, was one of three volunteers who spent their Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico.

“It feels good to be able to not just donate money, but to actually go there to help the people,” said Schmitt.

DEMPS is a national VA program that is designed to provide emergency medical support to response efforts to a national disaster or VA emergency.

DEMPS volunteers provide critical skills needed to maintain continuous healthcare in a disaster area, and are requested by the national VA Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Volunteer deployments from Madison included a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), a Mechanic, a Pharmacist, 2 Pharmacy Technicians, 2 administrative support personnel, 2 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), and 11 Registered Nurses (RN) in a variety of specialties.

Karla Bartelt, RN was one of three volunteers deployed to both Texas and Puerto Rico.

“The Madison VA is getting a solid reputation down there, not only because of the quantity, but because of the quality of the people we sent, and of the care we provided,” said Bartelt.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs sent 1039 volunteers in seven waves of deployments over the past several months to provide support and assist the national hurricane disaster response.

Volunteers worked 12-hour shifts, 7 days/week, delivering quality care despite power outages, air conditioning failures, logistics shortages, lack of running water, and other issues.

Volunteers from Madison received praise from DEMPS leaders for their courage, compassion and professionalism, and for providing exceptional critical care with high patient loads; more than 200 patients per day were treated.

“The Madison VA has really stepped up to the plate when it comes to deploying staff to help with disaster relief efforts,” said John Rohrer, Hospital Director.  “We are by far the biggest contributor in our region, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Please contact Paul Rickert at (608) 256-1901, ext. 11011 or for more information. For more information about the Madison VA Hospital, visit or

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