JOAG Journal - Winter 2013 (please see attached).
Greater NYCOA & FDA NY District Office support local meals on wheels program - By LCDR Melinda Ruiz
COA Members Lead Field Response Efforts for Superstorm Sandy - By LCDR Elena Vaouli
Greater New York Branch Marches with RDF-2 in New York City Veterans Day Parade - by LT Yvonne M. Santiago
Greater New York Branch Marches in New York City Veterans Day Parade - by CDR Andrew J. Chen
Surgeon General Visits New York City - by CDR Andrew J. Chen
USPHS Half-Marathon Runner - by the NYCOA Branch Executive Officers
Greater NYCOA & FDA NY District Office support local meals on wheels program
By LCDR Melinda Ruiz
In the spirit of camaraderie and a shared desire to assist underserved communities in the New York City (NYC) metro area, members of the Greater New York COA Branch (NYCOA), staff of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and family members from both entities partnered with the Citymeals on Wheels Program in New York City. Citymeals is one of the largest meals on wheels programs in the U.S., providing 1.8 million meals to over 16,500 elderly New Yorkers each year.1 Together, they helped deliver healthy, nutritious meals and offer human companionship to homebound elderly residents living on Manhattan’s East Side.
On December 8, 2012, NYCOA arranged the second of two outreach events with the NYC Meals on Wheels Program this year. Alicia Flores, Citymeals representative, requested at least 20 volunteers from NYCOA for this service event. With knowledge of the strong interest expressed by FDA civilian staff in the Import Operation Branch of the FDA-NY District Office to become more involved in community service projects, and recognizing the great opportunity for collaboration, LCDR Melinda Ruiz extended an invitation to her FDA colleagues to join NYCOA’s efforts to support the Citymeals Program.
Collectively, NYCOA and FDA exceeded the requested number of volunteers; over 30 volunteers participated in the service event. For NYCOA, this event marked the greatest number of volunteers participating in a single community service event organized by the branch. As a result of this event, nearly 40 Manhattan seniors received much needed nutrition and human company. In return, all volunteers gained a greater appreciation of the unique public health needs of a significant population of elderly New Yorkers.
COA Members Lead Field Response Efforts for Superstorm Sandy
by LCDR Elena Vaouli
In the largest HHS deployment response since hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, HHS's field response was led by numerous PHS officers who are also members of COA.
In New York, the HHS Incident Response Coordination Team (IRCT) was initially led by CAPT Dana Hall (Heartland of America Branch -- she also serves as a Field Representative to National COA) and then by CAPT Mick Cote (Dallas Branch). Officers serving as Deputy Commanders for the IRCT in NY included CDR Amy Taylor (Dallas Branch) and CDR Erik Vincent (Golden Gate Branch).
In New Jersey, the IRCT was led by CAPT Janet Odom (Chicago Branch), with CAPT Kevin Sheehan (Golden Gate Branch), CAPT Jim Imholte (Heartland of America Branch), CAPT Chris Kates (Heartland of America Branch), and CDR Vincent (who also did double-duty in New Jersey) serving as Deputy Commanders for the IRCT. CDR Andrew Chen (Greater NY Branch) served as the Federal Public Health and Medical Official for NJ, overseeing all response operations and coordinating with NJ state officials to ensure all needs were met.
All of the officers mentioned above serve as Regional Emergency Coordinators with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in HHS. Other PHS Regional Emergency Coordinators deployed as liaison officers to numerous emergency operations centers.
In addition, numerous PHS teams and officers were activated and deployed for the response to Superstorm Sandy. Officers on RIST-1, RIST-2, RIST-3, RIST-4, RIST-NCR, NIST-B, NIST-C, APHT-2, and SAT-2 all lent a hand up and down the East Coast.
In New York, Rapid Deployment Forces PHS-1 and PHS-2 were deployed to run FMS operations in New York City, as well as a Tiger Team comprised of Tier III officers. Officers with MHT-2 and MHT-3 deployed to provide mental health support at various locations.
In New Jersey, Rapid Deployment Force PHS-3 deployed to run FMS operations in Middlesex County, and officers with MHT-1 deployed to provide mental health support at various locations. Officers with SAT-3 also deployed to help with discharge planning of patients at medical needs shelters and at hospitals.
All told, over 450 PHS officers were activated and deployed for Superstorm Sandy, many over the Thanksgiving holiday. A huge "Thank You!" to those officers who answered our Nation's call in time of need!
Photo Caption: IRCT/ASPR Officers and Greater NY Branch visit RDF PHS-1 at FMS site in Brooklyn, NY.
Officers Pictured (L-R): LT Yvonne Santiago & LCDR Jerry Zee of Greater NY, CAPT Charles Weir and CDR Andrew Chen of ASPR, LCDR Elena Vaouli of RDF PHS-1. Photo credit: LCDR Jerry Zee
Greater New York Branch Marches with RDF-2 in New York City Veterans Day Parade
RADM Elizondo visits RDF Teams deployed to Hurricane Sandy with Greater New York COA branch
By LT Yvonne M. Santiago
On November 10, 2012, RHA for Region 6 and Chief Professional Officer for the Health Services Category, RADM Epifanio Elizondo visited USPHS RDF Teams deployed to New York and New Jersey in response to Hurricane Sandy. RADM Elizondo was in the tri-state area as an honored guest of the Greater New York COA branch to participate in the 2012 NYC Veterans Day Parade. Originally scheduled to attend Veterans Day events in the area, RADM Elizondo felt it would be of utmost importance to visit with officers deployed to the tri-state area. Greater New York COA Officers escorted RADM Elizondo during visits to RDF-2 at Brookdale Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY and RDF-3 at Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ. During the visits RADM Elizondo met with officers and learned about their experiences during this deployment.
From left to right LT Kimberley Gordon-Ricketts, LT Yvonne M. Santiago. CAPT Calvin Edwards (RDF-2 Team Commander), RADM Epifanio Elizondo, LCDR Elena Vaouli (President of the Greater New York COA) & LT Kimberly Garner (Members of RDF-2 & Greater New York COA Branch)
Surgeon General Visits New York City
by CDR Andrew J. Chen
On August 5, 2011, the Surgeon General of the United States, VADM Regina Benjamin, traveled to New York City to kick off her visits to all the regional HHS offices. While in NYC, VADM Benjamin took time out of her busy schedule to meet with officers of the Greater NYC branch of COA to share her experiences with underserved populations as a clinical provider in rural Alabama. She was also briefed on the status of the effort to clean up and restore the PHS cemetery on Staten Island, as well as on the efforts to have a museum exhibit dedicated solely to the PHS at Ellis Island.
At the conclusion of her visit, VADM Benjamin was presented with the Region II PHS coin, originally designed by the late RADM Robert L. Davidson, former Regional Health Administrator for Region II.
Photo Caption: VADM Regina Benjamin, the Surgeon General of the United States, with members of the Greater NYC COA Branch during her visit to New York City on August 5, 2011.
Greater New York Branch Marches in New York City Veterans Day Parade
USPHS Half-Marathon Runner