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Harvey postpones wedding for Houston VA Medical Center's primary care physician

Doctor volunteered to stay overnight at VA hospital evening Harvey made landfall

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(Department of Veterans Affairs)

HOUSTON – A wedding involving the primary care physician of the Houston VA Medical Center was rescheduled after Hurricane Harvey moved into the area.

Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs said Dr. Sarah Candler, who also is an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, had been planning her wedding day for Sept. 3.

However, Candler volunteered to stay overnight at the VA hospital the evening Harvey made landfall, officials said.

"I think that anybody that goes into medicine does it because they like to take care of people," Candler said. "Friday, I made the decision to sleep at the hospital. When somebody needs you right then and there and you’re the best-qualified person to do it, I feel I signed up for that. I signed up to be there for people, so that was my priority."

Candler continued to provide care to her veteran patients once the storm hit and volunteered to stay another evening at the medical center, officials said. She worked to fulfill her duties, and spent more than 10 hours on the phone contacting her patients to check on them.

"We have a couple methods for contacting patients, so in addition to the Mobile Medical Unit deployed on Saturday in Pearland, I spent Wednesday after the storm on the phone," Candler said. "I spent about 10 hours on the phone and emailing with secure messages. I started with the ones who I was worried about. They are sick, on dialysis or have heart failure. I left them a message saying your doctor is here. I wanted them to know if they needed care and they were dry and safe and could make it in, that we were available to them."

The following day, which would have been Candler's wedding day, she and her fiancé worked alongside friends gutting and cleaning their flooded house. Officials said her friends were just moving into the home and hadn't unpacked yet, and the unpacked boxes were soaked from the floodwaters.

"One box contained her friend's wedding veil. Candler's friends urged her to put on the veil and they all enjoyed big smiles and giggles for a moment amidst the disaster," officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs said. "For Candler, the decision to postpone her wedding and continue to help her patients, community and friends in the wake of Harvey, was natural."

Candler is making plans now to be married on President's Day weekend in February 2018, officials said.

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