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Many of you read the diary posted by whatGodmade last night and have been wondering how Vetwife and her husband are doing. I have gleaned the comments and determined that as of right now, everything is as best as can be expected.

The basics are this:

Vetwife's husband, after several days of symptoms, went to the Gainesville VA Hospital emergency room for care.

After a long wait, her husband requested that the TV channel in the waiting room be changed from Fox News to something else. The staff seemed unable to respond to that simple request, so in his impatience and anger at having to listen to propaganda against President Obama, he yanked the plug out of the wall.

This prompted the staff to call security who then escalated the situation by treating both Vetwife and her husband inappropriately for the situation at hand. Both were threatened with arrest.

After Vetwife threatened to call the Inspector General, the staff seemed to get their butts in gear. They called in a specialist and a psychiatrist.

Currently, her husband is at a non-VA facility where they had a bed available.

I am sure when she is up and ready to face the day we will learn more but we know enough to answer a request from Vetwife. She wants complaints sent to the Inspector General in Washington DC.

If you are willing to help, there is more info below the fold.

The IG Office accepts complaints that fit these categories, I have highlighted the three that I think apply to this situation:

Examples of Issues Often Accepted:

VA-related criminal activity

Systemic patient safety issues

Gross mismanagement of VA programs

Waste of VA resources

Misconduct by senior VA officials

First - it is simple common sense that news programs are a poor choice for a waiting room of veterans and their families. Today's news is meant to spark strong emotional reactions among watchers. As Vetwife herself says:
NO controversial programming allowed in the VA. That cuts out the NEWs channels. An out of control vet pushed past pain could have been shot tonight over knee jerk reaction over a damn plug.
When you write the Inspector General, you can also add that our government could save a ton of money if it no longer had to provide those televisions in those waiting rooms. TV's were originally added to make the wait more pleasant. However, this is rarely the case anymore. For many, the TV's are just a nuisance, but for others they are noisemakers that add to the overload of the senses. Overworked staff are always asked to change the channels, to change the volume, to turn off the TV, etc, etc. Save time and money and get rid of the damn TVs.

Second - the use of security in a VA facility needs to include a TRAINED security staff that are aware of PTSD triggers. I think this team failed on all accounts. Threatening to arrest a veteran for unplugging a television and making a statement about the cartoon network is not a valid response to the situation. In fact, I would argue that they made the situation worse.

Vetwife has been aware of her husband's pain over the last months and has had a difficult time getting him the proper care he not only earned but deserves. She thinks he may have reacted to the security team because of the pain he is in:

... the more I think of it and the lack of care he has gotten like the 17 calls to Telecare the other night....maybe the pain is too much and he hoped they shot him. He practically said as much to you.
Third - If Vetwife's husband had received medical care in a timely fashion or if the staff would have responded to the simple request to change the channel, this entire situation could have prevented. It makes sense to ask the Inspector General if the Gainesville Emergency Room is adequately staffed to meet the needs of the community. If they are, are they adequately trained in customer service? It is easy to forget in a government setting where money does not exchange hands that patients are customers and deserved to be treated with respect.

If you have anything further to add, please do so in the comments below. And start writing folks. Vetwife is going to have a hard enough time finding a reason to be happy this morning when she wakes up - I would like to give her a few bright rays of sunshine to help her start what is going to be a difficult day.

Online complaint form

E-Mail: vaoighotline@va.gov
1 (800) 488-8244
[9:00am–4:00pm Eastern Time Monday–Friday excluding Federal holidays]
FAX: (202) 565-7936
Mail:
VA Inspector General Hotline (53E)
P.O. BOX 50410
WASHINGTON, DC 20091-0410

If you would like to include a copy of your letter to the VA in Florida, Bendygirl has provided us names in her comment below. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any email contacts or office phone numbers. If anyone else tracks them down, would you please share in the comments below. Here are the names of the appropriate staff:
http://www.northflorida.va.gov/....
Executive Leadership:
Thomas A. Cappello, MPH, FACHE
Director

Nancy Reissener
Associate Director (Gainesville)

Maureen Wilkes
Acting Associate Director
(Lake City)

Bradley S. Bender, M.D.
Chief of Staff

LeAnne Whitlow, RN, MSHSA, MBA
Associate Director,
Nursing Service

Nick Ross
Assistant Director, Outpatient Clinics and Planning

Contact
Executive Leadership
Gainesville: 352-376-1611
Lake City: 386-755-3016

7:29 AM PT: llbear left a very pertinent comment below and I feel like it needs highlighting as it give us all an extra reason to write the IG at the National Level:

In order to get any medical help everyone has to go through the emergency room. After seeing the triage nurse, the ill person is returned to the waiting room. That makes it the most unhealthy - and sometimes dangerously unhealthy - place for every patient waiting to see a doctor.

In Portland it is normal for a 2 to 6 hour wait to see a doctor. The wait will try the patience of anyone. Small issues, like the TV, become big. I agree that all TVs throughout all VA facilities should be allowed to show anything but channels carrying opinions or news.

The wait is caused by some patients requiring tests before treatment can begin. Last week I was one of those patients. Sara R and Ann took me in at 4. By 6 I was being treated. They weren't done with me until 12. In the interim I got great and thorough treatment including blood work and a CT scan. For 6 hours I consumed one of 5 treatment rooms that were being used. Another 5 emergency treatment rooms sat unused. I don't know why.

Another patient was a young Vet who was brought in by his wife. With them was their baby. The family had to wait for treatment longer than I did. Meanwhile, the baby was exposed to a third patient who was coughing badly, and a fourth with he thought was a bladder infection.

There always seem to be small children and babies in the waiting room. With so many young vets these days that's normal. There is nothing available in the waiting room to keep little ones safe from those of us who are ill with communicable diseases, nor preoccupied while waiting. They get bored, then tired, then cranky, then they start crying and screaming. That's just what little kids do.

VA has made enormous progress in many areas. Some VA hospitals are still stuck in the past. Gainsville appears to be one. So is the Nashville VA hospital. But, in my opinion, all of the VA Hospitals share three very big problems:

1. Emergency Room wait times during which ill patients and those who brought them in are exposed to other diseases.

2. Wait times in the pharmacy with similar exposure.

3. Some means of protecting children from communicable diseases while they and their parents are waiting wherever they may be in the hospital or clinic.

7:40 AM PT: A comment from Bendygirl down below suggests we contact the local VA offices. She makes a good point that the complaint should be made through a lower level.

Jaded military wife that I am, I believe 'shit rolls downhill better than up." I suggest sending letters to both. I added the information up above.

I will also suggest that Vetwife write her Representative and have him look into this as well. If any of you are interested in doing so, please contact Congressman Cliff Stearns

contactCongressman Richard Nugent.

8:57 AM PT: Update from Vetwife in the comments below... it's long so I'll let you read it down there!

Originally posted to Military Community Members of Daily Kos on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 04:15 AM PST.

Also republished by DKos Military Veterans.

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