Tag Archives: department of veterans affairs

My Disappointing Doctor’s Appointment – How An MD With Terminal Cancer Helped My Perspective

Today I went to the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic,  for my semi-annual physical exam. I had a different doctor because the new primary care doctor assigned me last year quit December 2011 because she did not like the VA system. Pity she quit, she is a brilliant physician, very thorough, and has an excellent bed side manner (she communicates well). I got a bit spoiled after just a few appointments with her, because, as I have said, she is one of the top 5 physicians I have ever seen, in the 25 year history of my disease. For those who must know her name, it is Dr. Marcia O. Miller.

Today I saw a physician who has been given the thankless task of seeing all of her patients due for semi-annual physicals. I looked up his credentials before going in, and he is well trained in several areas of medicine; furthermore he is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), which is a rarity in the VA system. I have had wonderful results with D.O.s in the past, and had my hopes high, for a good visit, with a physician trained a bit differently than the average Medical Doctor (MD). D.O.s take an entirely different approach to medicine. If you ever get a chance, go see one. You will not be disappointed.

I guess I put my hopes a bit too high because the D.O. was really slammed trying to catch up the case load. Certain patients must be seen, at a minimum, every 6 months, by law, so he has an overwhelming task ahead of him. I knew this, and should have been prepared for it; nonetheless, I was not prepared for what I got. All I got was an 8 minute visit with this doctor. I am the type, it takes me a few minutes to warm up to someone, and 8 minutes was not enough time to cover a 25 year history, not even the high lights. He listened to my lungs, and heart, refilled all my routine meds, and I was out the door. Not exactly what I had envisioned, but after several serenity prayers, and a long drive home, I understood.

I was still grappling with it all, and the totality of my problems when I ran across an article about a doctor, 29yrs old, newlywed, who was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Her stories put everything into perspective, and made me thankful for the health I have, compromised as it is. I will let her story speak for itself. Here is the link. I hope you gain something from reading it. It is very worthwhile reading, and not too long.

LINK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2154683/How-having-terminal-cancer-better-doctor.html?ITO=1490

If you want, cruise back by, and let me know what you think about her struggles.

Take Care of Yourself, and Tell Someone You Love Them,

mark

 

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Filed under Health, Life as a Disabled Veteran, Spiritual, Veterans Issues

VA Adding 1,900 New Mental Health Workers – Is This Enough?

The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently announced they will be adding 1,900 new Mental Health personnel. Of the 1,900, 1,600 will be doctors, nurses, and PAs. The additional 300 slots will be for administrative support. Which VISN gets what has not been announced, but the announcement indicated these workers will be disbursed throughout the entire Veterans healthcare system. I salute Congress, and President Barack Obama for seeing the urgent need for these workers, and allocating resources to meet the need.

It appears the VA is trying to get ahead of the wave of new Veterans returning from Iraq, and Afghanistan. Many of these men, and women have been sent on multiple tours, and have seen things they will never talk about. Studies show the decade after a war ends is the costliest part of waging war. The physical, and mental wounds these men, and women have will take time, and money to begin the healing process.

It appears the lessons the VA learned from Vietnam were not forgotten; however, this increase may be insufficient, or the needs may be greater elsewhere, during any given time, in the decade beyond these wars. Currently the Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to meet the Primary Healthcare needs of millions of Veterans. In my humble opinion, the VA should have concurrently allocated additional funding to recruit, and retain quality Primary Care Doctors. I know there is a shortage. I see it in my own VA, and read stories of other veterans struggling to access Primary Care.

Let us not forget how crucial the role of a Primary Care giver is to overall good healthcare. Ideally the Primary Care doctor is the main player in a person’s healthcare. If a person has a problem outside the scope of the Primary Care doctor, a referral, and consultation should follow; however, if the Primary Care doctors are overwhelmed with their current workload, we cannot expect them to be effective.

I am hoping to hear the VA will allocate funding for more Primary Care doctors. Not just a body, but good quality doctors. Incentives should be maximized. One incentive to lure quality physicians is to pay off their student loans, and I am sure those who know more than me can come up with even better ways to recruit, and retain top Quality Physicians. It is my hope that the 1,900 additional VA workers will be recruited based on quality, not quantity.

Thanks for stopping by!

mark 

 

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Filed under Political, Veterans Issues, War

Department of Veterans Affairs – Blacklisting Patients

The Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics, and hospitals have some problems, and some issues in dire need of solutions. One of the problems in need of a solution is the complaint process. Currently, if a Veteran has a problem, they are encouraged to go to the Patient Advocate; however, this system allows the VA to identify the complaining Veteran, and as I have found out, retaliate against that Veteran.

People in the civilian sector, and most of the Veterans, are unaware of the capability built into the electronic health record system enabling the Veterans Administration to flag a chart. I understand the need for employees to be aware a particular Veteran has the propensity to be violent, but conversely I fear this ability to “flag” a veterans’ medical record could be abused. I can see how such a system could lead to veterans being blacklisted by the very institution entrusted to care for them.

I would not feel this way if I did not have first hand experience with retaliation from a VA employee. A few years back I had a problem with an employee at the VA. I wrote a letter of complaint in the hope my problem would be corrected. Up until 2 years ago I assumed the problem had been handled. I gave no second thought to the matter until I was literally confronted by the same employee I complained against. This happened over the phone when I had a problem that came under this particular persons’ job duties. Moreover, since this incident, I have had several problems with that persons co-workers. To say the least, I am afraid to speak my mind anymore out of fear of reprisals. They have made it clear to me that everything I say, and do at the VA is being monitored. To me it is all a bit over the top considering I had a legitimate complaint; furthermore, I have NEVER threatened, or abused an employee at the Veterans Administration. The only “sin” I commited was to comlain about harsh treatment.

If I can have this many problems because I wrote ONE letter complaining about harsh treatment, imagine how bad it could be for others? By the way, if you are a Veteran, or the spouse/family member of a Veteran, take my advice and do not complain to the Patient Advocate. The Patient Advocates in the Veterans Administration clinics, and hospitals are a joke. They are there to protect the VA, not the Veterans. Do not fall into the same trap I have fallen into. Avoid the Patient Advocate like the plague. Take your complaints higher up the food chain. Contact your representatives in Washington, D.C., I know I will.

It does not take much of a mental leap to see how a system that allows employees to abuse patients, could use the option to electronically flag a patients chart, in a way that is not consistent with quality, compassionate care. Dare I use the word ‘blacklist”? I do not think it would be too far out of bounds to do so.

Thanks for stopping by,

armyveteran

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Filed under Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal, Political, Veterans Issues

True Horror Stories at The Veterans Administration – The Blind Veteran & The Abusive VA Nurse

I have decided to devote part of my blog space to what I call “Horror Stories At The Veterans Administration”. I have been going to the Veterans Administration for 27 years, and I am here to tell you I have seen some bad things happen to patients. I have even had bad things done to me, by employees at the Veterans Administration. I hope people will read these stories, and realise America’s Veterans are forced to deal with a system that allows its employees to abuse the very people it is there to serve, the people who without them there would be no VA; the American Veteran.

The Department of Veterans Affairs allows its employees to abuse patients. The only time it is put to a stop is if the abuse is caught, and challenged by the patient, or the patient’s family. Even when an abusive employee is caught, and disciplined, the patient is subject to retaliation from the same employee, or  other employees. I know this is hard to fathom, but it is true. There is something fundamentally wrong with an institution that allows retaliatory action by its employees on someone who complains. It is sickening to know that the very people who are there to take care of the health of America’s Veterans can do such things as I am going to write about. Even worse has happened to other Veterans, but the mainstream press will not cover it long-term. The press will pick it up for sensationalism, using the shock value to pull in viewers, but they will not do long-term, in-depth coverage, of what happens at the place chosen to care for America’s Veterans, their Widows, and Dependent Children. I will do my utmost to stick to the facts, and not sensationalize these reports.

I have decided to start with a true story I have written in the past. I call it “The Blind Veteran and The Abusive VA Nurse”.

Not too long ago I was admitted to a Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital for a severe episode of my illness. I was in a room that had 5 beds in it. Across from my bed was a Veteran who was blind.

The blind Veteran, and his family told all of the doctors, and all of the nurses who came on duty, that he did not want any intravenous potassium. Apparently he had a severe reaction to it in the past, and wanted to ensure it was not given him again. His lab work came back showing his potassium was a bit low, and they asked him if he would allow them to give him IV Potassium. I heard the blind Veteran clearly tell them no. His family said no too. Each shift change he made sure to tell the people coming on that he wanted no IV potassium.

One night, I saw a nurse named Maureen slip into the room holding IV bags. She went over to his bedside, and started hanging IVs. The blind Veteran asked if any of it was potassium, and she assured him he was not getting any.

The next morning I was up early, as usual, at the sink shaving, and trying to figure out how to get a cup of coffee. As I walked past the blind Veterans’ bed, I glanced up at his IV pole, and looked at the labels on each bag. I could not believe it when I saw one of them was potassium. I told the man. When his family got there, I told them. They complained bitterly, and the nurse, Maureen, was supposed to have been disciplined.

The next night, Maureen was back on duty, and she was still taking care of him, and me. I asked for a pain shot. I was given the shot, and the next thing I knew I awoke 4 hours later in a pool of my own urine. Bear in mind, I have a very high tolerance for all of the pain medications they use, due to being ill for so many years, and had been getting these shots for several days. Not once did any of them do this to me; furthermore, none of the other shots given me after this had the same effect. I honestly believe Maureen was pissed off at me for blowing the whistle on her, and she gave me too much medicine, or something else. For sure, I did not ask her for another shot; moreover, I did not stay as long as the doctors wanted me in the hospital, because I was afraid something worse may happen to me. 

Nurse Maureen at the Veterans Administration Hospital never did get disciplined. I do not know what happened to the blind Veteran. I am hoping that since I did not read about his death, nor saw it on the news, he survived the ordeal. Other Veterans have not been so lucky.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I will be sharing more true VA stories soon. Ask yourself this question: Do the men, and women who served Honorably in the Armed Forces of The United States deserve to be treated like this? Are we just human garbage for the VA employees to do with as they wish? Think about it. You will be shocked to know how some of the employees at the VA abuse Veterans.

I want to be clear on one thing. There are some good employees at the VA; however, all it takes is one bad employee, to undo all the work, of the good ones.

Enjoy Your Freedom? Thank a Veteran.

old soldier

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Filed under Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal, Political, Uncategorized, Veterans Issues

The New & Improved Veterans Administration – I Don’t Think So

The Department of Veterans Affairs claims they have changed. I have been told to my face “The VA is changing”, “The VA is going to treat Veterans nicer, and not allow employees to abuse patients”. The motto in my neck of the woods is “We are committed to providing compassionate, quality care”.  The first time this was told to me, I chuckled. The first time I heard it on a recording while on phone hold, I laughed. I had a new doctor tell me the Veterans Administration has changed, and I said I do not believe it. That same doctor wound up quitting the entire VA after just 6 months of service.. I wonder why? No one will say why, but the last thing this doctor told me was about a veteran being done wrong in another clinic. I am guessing this doctor saw the crap hole it is, and being one of the better docs in this area, could not stand to work there.

Back on topic. Why do I think this way? I have been going to the VA for 27 years. I have been told the VA was changing in the past. It never materializes.

The VA Clinics, as part of all of this new change, are supposed to be more approachable. I took the challenge to the belly of the beast last week, and got the same bang for my buck as usual. Most of what I was said, in an attempt to take care of a problem, was misconstrued. If they will not take the time to understand the problem, they cannot effect real change.

Do not believe the propaganda from the VA. They are the same VA, with small-minded people trying lord power over us Veterans. I truly believe the VA is a dinosaur, and needs reform. All Veterans should be given the option of being seen at the VA, or going into the private sector using the same type insurance Congress has. Is this too much to ask for? I think I know something about the VA after 27 years. I should be given the right to go elsewhere with the same type insurance Congress uses.

Thanks For Stopping By! If you want to send me a private message about the VA, please do so, or comment on this post. I approve ALL comments. Please contact your Representatives in Congress and ask that us Veterans be given a choice to opt out of VA care, and go to the private sector.

mark – armyveteran

P.S. I had to re-edit this. If you want a copy of the original, please message me.

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Filed under Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal, Political, Veterans Issues