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Northport VA Medical Center
Veterans' Emergency Housing gets an upgrade
By Todd Goodman
Thursday, January 25, 2018Due to an antiquated heating system and the recent extremely cold temperatures, social work staff and Beacon House Northport Veterans Residence staff proactively relocated homeless Veterans to other Long Island housing options.
The $1.1 million project to replace the HVAC system will be under construction soon and completed in summer 2018.
“This was a huge undertaking,” said Melanie Brodsky, Northport VAMC Social Work Service chief. “What is very impressive about the effort is that we originally thought that some Veterans would have to go back to DSS (Department of Social Services) emergency housing. However, we were able to place all of them successfully.”
Between the East End Veterans Residence in Riverhead, Northport VAMC’s Grant & Per Diem Program, and various other Beacon Houses in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, all Veterans were accommodated. It was a great and proactive collaboration between Northport VAMC Social Work Service and Beacon House staff.
“We relocated 33 Veterans with their possessions within 24 hours,” said Frank Amalfitano, United Veterans Beacon House president and CEO. “Logistics were pretty hectic, but the great team effort between Northport social workers and Beacon House case workers made it happen smoothly.”
“We took what normally takes weeks and compressed it down to two days,” said Greg Curran, Homeless Program manager.
“The biggest challenge?” said Dean Carbonetti, Grant and Per Diem liaison, “At first it was, oh my, how are we going to do this? With Beacon House it was all hands on deck. The thing that stands out most for me was the communication and ease of implementing the plan.”
The plan was to make it as smooth a transition for the Veterans as possible and strong communication was the key. Social Work staff met with Veterans individually to discuss which location would be in their best interest while Beacon House focused on transporting the Veterans.
“We triaged every person, reviewed each medical record and expedited a discharge plan,” said Cristina Balbo, Health Care for Homeless Veterans contract coordinator. “We had to determine which location met each individual patient’s specific need, ensuring that there is no interruption in a Veteran’s treatment or clinical services and that Veterans have transportation available to the Medical Center.”
It would have been much more convenient to take bed offers from the Veterans Integrated Service Network’s Homeless Program, but that would not have kept Northport’s Veterans local. It was important to keep them on Long Island so they could remain with their providers and maintain a consistent level of treatment.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the teamwork displayed by our staff, as well as our Beacon House partners,” said Scott Guermonprez, Northport VAMC director. “This truly was a joint effort.”
Veterans who report to the medical center with housing placement needs will continue to be assisted by Social Work Service to find the best options to suit their needs.