Intermediate Care Technician - National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
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Intermediate Care Technician

First VHA Expert Field Intermediate Care Technician of the Year Award goes to hurricane responder

Man with red, short-sleeve, collar shirt. The left of the man’s shirt reads, H. Velazquez, ICT. The right of the man’s shirt has a blue, red and black seal that reads, VA Caribbean Healthcare System and San Juan Puerto Rico.
Henry Velazquez, honored as the 2018
Intermediate Care Technician of the Year.

Henry Velazquez, an Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) and former Army Medic, was one of the first to volunteer when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017. Using his medical evacuation (known as medevac) experience transporting wounded military personnel, he worked countless hours caring for people injured in the storm. A Casualty Care Unit Leader for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Caribbean Healthcare System (VACHS), Mr. Velazquez is the first recipient of the VHA Under Secretary for Health’s Expert Field Intermediate Care Technician of the Year Award.

VHA Chief of Staff Lawrence Connell presented the award in a virtual ceremony on November 15, 2018, attended by Mr. Velazquez’s family members, friends, VACHS leaders, and fellow VHA staff. Mr. Connell spoke about Mr. Velazquez’s dedication, commitment, and skills, noting that these qualities set him apart even among the outstanding competition for the first annual award. Mr. Connell also highlighted Mr. Velazquez’s contributions to VACHS and the survivors of Hurricane Maria.

“Let me congratulate you on this achievement,” said John Wagner, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. At the ceremony, Mr. Wagner presented Mr. Velazquez with the VA Secretary’s Challenge Coin, a token awarded to people for their hard work and excellence. “There was keen competition. I know you are not surprised by that, since the best and brightest former Medics and Corpsmen are filling the VA Intermediate Care Technician role,” Mr. Wagner said.

The submission letter nominating Mr. Velazquez detailed his exceptional attributes: He exemplifies the success of the ICT Program. He is highly respected by his co-workers and patients and recognized as an excellent ICT mentor in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His military experience with difficult and unusual clinical scenarios has proven invaluable to VACHS.

In times of emergency, VACHS is designated to receive victims evacuated from the U.S. Virgin Islands. During the acute period of Hurricane Maria, Mr. Velazquez led other ICTs as they worked extended shifts and overtime hours to support the emergency department. For close to two weeks following the hurricane, he worked long hours coordinating and leading the Patient Reception Team, which includes ICTs and other team members who may not have medevac experience.

In this role, Mr. Velazquez oversaw the reception and transfer of more than 90 people to local hospitals within the San Juan metropolitan area. In the aftermath of the hurricane, he continues to play a leadership role within the department and is constantly looking for ways to contribute to the care of Veterans.

Across the VHA health care system, thousands of Veterans benefit every day from the ICT program. ICT employees, who are military-trained Medics and Corpsmen serving as clinicians, deliver health care services to their Veteran comrades at 25 VHA medical facilities across the country. ICTs often work in emergency departments and can be found in multiple clinical settings where their special skills and training are beneficial. These clinical areas include mental health, geriatrics, primary care, and surgical services.

The ICT program is a part of VA’s Transitioning Military Personnel initiative. The initiative serves as a pipeline for well- trained clinical staff who can be hired as VA medical professionals; it also creates a civilian career path for former Medics and Corpsmen to apply skills honed in the military to care for other Veterans.

The recognition and virtual award ceremony for the Expert Field Intermediate Care Technician of the Year is one of the many Veterans Month events coordinated by the VHA Office of Community Engagement this year.

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