VA problems



The practices of a few VA clinics/hospitals have been in the headlines these past few weeks. Then it should not be surprising, there are a few who think they are above the rules and can do as they please. See it in all walks of life but when it is in healthcare it draws big attention.

I have been using the VA healthcare system for over 6 years now and have no major complaints. My dealings with them go back over 30 years ago. A family member retired from the Army and moved to city where there was an Army hospital, so he was close for medical care and other GI benefits. A democrat was elected shortly after and she had a major distaste for the military. Through various actions, she was able to get the Army hospital closed down and another installation was closed. Both were in her district. She was not successful in closing the local VA hospital and this is where the vet ended up at. No longer was he getting good care. The local VA was understaffed and over worked. He would go out for a 9am appointment and came home that evening and have another appointment for another day. All day was spent at the clinic and the doctor was not seen.

So when I signed up for the VA medical care I had some reservations. Yet for the most part, the horror stories of old did not happen. It has been a pretty good experience and issues were taken care of.

The VA opened small clinics around the state and it is one of these I go to. I only go to the big city for special tests and or surgery. At the small clinic I go to, they had a nurse practitioner, PA that took care of the physicals and examinations. Medicine could be prescribed, x-rays and other tests. The visits went well then things began to change. Attitudes were hostile at times, the nurse assistant left and so did the receptionist.. There was lots of turmoil for some time among the staff with the nurse practitioner. Eventually she was removed and the clinic settled down and became pretty good again.

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Turns out the nurse had worked at the local prison before she went to work for the VA and she was treating some of the guys like they were inmates. In prison one can sometimes get away with treating them like little piles of dung. The GI’s, self included, did not like her attitude. A new PA was brought in and now there is a different one.

This is but one example of how the rotten apple, stinks up the barrel. Yet in this case the bad apple was removed. Now when I go in the clinic, I know everybody and hi’s are always exchanged. It is not impersonal like the big city is. That is not to say the big city is not friendly, they are. It’s just that I do not see them very often.

I recently spent a couple of days in the big city undergoing some minor emergency surgery. For the most part, things went really good. It was not until I was leaving that I ran into difficulties.

It was not real serious, and I was able to drive to the emergency room. They checked me and like most ER’s I had a wait. My injuries were not life threatening and I was not in severe pain. So patiently I waited.

Waiting is one the rubs many of the people have. A sense of self importance lives in a few people and they think all others are unimportant and they should go first. The VA has more then their fair share of these people. Then some don’t learn, in the military it always has been hurry up and wait. Those that don’t want to wait sometimes raise a pretty big stink and things get nasty at times.

The clerks are the ones who usually take the brunt of these attacks and sometimes they are pretty nasty. The local hospital has a police substation located in it and the police patrol the building. The pharmacy is rough because so many GI’s have been hooked on drugs. There is also a mass of people going through the hospital. The main waiting area will at times have over 100 people waiting and there are other smaller waiting rooms. There is a massive amount of humanity that goes through the system.

Then there are the ones that complain and whine about anything and everything. When I was in recovery is was not a private room, there were two other beds in it. The one held a guy who had major issues, hip replacements and leg problems and oh…. He was overweight. Some therapists came to work with him, all he could do was whine. He would not listen to them or try anything. He had a whole litany of bellyaches, apparently he had been using for some time. The therapists would try to talk with him, try to help and all he did was squawk. When I was in, I ran across a few of these and I wondered how they got in the service. Yet with all his gripping, he ties up 5 different workers and a couple of nurses and nothing was accomplished for him.

The hospital needs to get some counselors on staff to confront these people about their behavior. People were trying to help him and all he did was make life miserable for himself and others.

So when I look at things, it is usually the clerks that create problems, the waiting lists for the caregivers, are just that, they want to care for people. The VA needs to have a better system in place to monitor or enforce their rules for so many of the clerks I have worked with are very arrogant and have the attitude they are above the rest.

The other problem in the VA uses the University hospital for lots of their inters and young doctors. Some of them are great, others… well, then there are the ones who think they are god’s gift to medicine.

I had some small growths removed and each time was a different surgical team, the nurse was the same. The first doctor was a gal who had retired from the New York Ballet. She was very soft and precise. I could barely tell she was working on me and the scar has disappeared. The next group had an Indian, from India. His ego was bigger then Obama’s. I had a problem afterwards, it got taken care but his workmanship was less then adequate. I still have a pronounced scar, not a big deal for where it is. I could also feel him working. The other two with him were very delicate and precise. Yet they are gone, on to other venues.

This points to another problem the VA has, lack of adequate staffing. This takes more money but if we are going to put the military out there in harm’s way and police the world, be willing to take care of them. Do not discard them as non-persona’s as lots of democrats do.

In socialized medicine, these kind of problems will persist for so few want to pay.

This is a whole new area in the mindset of lots of the GI’s, the entitlement mind set. Boy can they be demanding and this can raise more turmoil in the system. There is a whole generation out there that has become dependent of the government.

When I left last time, I was wrapping up some paperwork. Oh yeah, it is the government and there are loads of paperwork. I got shuffled between different groups, same department. I have never been called so stupid as I was in one office. They knew it all, how dare I challenge them. I could not explain anything to them. So finally I quit and went home.

Yet with this little rant I am 90% satisfied with the care I get from the VA. I know how bad it can be and I know how good it could be.

One of the biggest problems with government agencies is they are semi monopolies. There is no competing to make them better. So this bill going through Congress should help the VA get better. There will be some competition and it will take some pressure off of the VA medical system.


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