Seattle VA Makes Vet Call 911 Before Letting Him Into ER

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Seattle VA 911

Benjamin KrauseSeattle VA hospital just apologized for forcing a veteran to call 911 before helping him into their emergency room when he pulled up to the ER in his car with a broken foot. Those Seattle VA employees refused to help 64-year-old Army veteran Donald Siefken inside and instead forced him to jump the 911 hoop.

The retired truck driver was frustrated to tears when he finally called 911. “They won’t come out and get me, do you believe that?” asked Siefken. “They told me to call 911 and hung up on me.”

Seattle VA shamelessly proceeded to claim their response was appropriate. Spokesperson Chad Hutson claimed, “I know it sounds counterintuitive because someone is just 10 feet away, but it is our policy to do that.” He continued, “Our policy is no different than Harborview or Swedish or other hospitals in Washington.”

Seattel VA quickly recanted its story once the foolish position went public.

An official statement from Seattle VA at Puget Sound stated, “After a complete review regarding this Veteran’s visit to [our] emergency room, we have determined we did not do the right thing to ensure the Veteran had assistance into the emergency room.”

In the future, Seattle VA promised to act differently. They will add personnel to “assist the patient, ensuring he made it into the emergency room safely.”

That’s all well and good. But when will VA start using some common sense? What if the veteran was having a heart attack? Why won’t VA start using common sense?

I’m impressed VA actually apologized to the veteran… like an adult human. Siefken’s broken foot was swollen to the size of a football by the time he made it to the facility. The idiotic Seattle VA operator told Siefken, “No, we’re not going to come get you. You’re going to have to call 911 and you’ll have to pay for that.” Siefken was literally parked right on the ambulance ramp to the facility.

Now what kind of foolish idiots are they employing at some of these places? Can we trust that VA will correct these problems before a veteran dies?

Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/seattle-va-hospital-strands-veteran-outside-er-2/

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43 Comments

  1. My God! that scary and degrading, rules in certain cases should be broken in emergency situations. I worked for a Company a few years ago, that actually authorized us to use your better judgment, if you though you were doing the right thing, in the absence of a supervisor, and no disciplinary actions would be applied.

  2. I hear nothing but seriously scary circus music with what transpired here with this Veteran 10 feet away and being told to call 911…”…and you will have to pay for that…”!

    “[They will add personnel to “assist the patient, ensuring he made it into the emergency room safely.]”—How about just getting off your lazy VA Employee ass and use any number of wheelchairs to go out and assist that Veteran into the ER? Will the VA now need to request $Billions for “extra employees” or were they referring to perhaps actually spending Billion$ on purchasing some Common Sense in Bulk for a pretty tax payer amount???!

    We in the military NEVER are to LEAVE A SOLDIER BEHIND….and whomever was on THAT SHIFT, as well as THAT VAMC’s Admn. that MADE THAT POLICY UP should not even be given the benefit of doubt, no collecting your $$$ Bonus, STRAIGHT TO JAIL!!! **IF** this **IS** an ‘official policy’ that a Veteran MUST call 911 and be totally responsible for the ambulance bill, even if only feet away in parking lot from whatever ailment, then some heads need to fly.

    Just as Ben suggested, what if that Veteran ended-up dying from a stress-induced heart attack or stroke from his brain not being able to wrap his head around this IDIOTIC POLICY…well, I would think they would have been responsible for his death through Willful Negligence.
    I bet the ONLY reason the VA publicly apologized is because they could TASTE the lawsuit and public outcry, but highly doubt they did so because they actually realized they were wrong…no, only “Watson The Computer” would know this, rather than the ‘VA Monkeys”.
    Ben, this SURELY CANNOT be any ‘official policy of the VA’ or ANY medical facility?!
    There was one time I was SO SICK (while still waiting on my VA Claim at time), in which where I lived at time, I was no more than 2 city blocks from the Eastern Hospital of Healthcare System I use and was seriously dehydrated from the very C-DIFF the VA had given me and was wee hours of morning and I simply could not make it past the apartment building’s foyer, and although I felt incredibly lazy for doing so because I consider myself really independent, I called 911 anyway because of the situation and I did not receive ANY grief at all and ended-up being hospitalized a few days and was told NOT to feel BAD for calling 911, regardless of my proximity!

    This sounds like a case of laziness or doing all they can to NOT have to do ANYTHING. Again, even Stephen King could not make this crap up! If this IS some kind of ‘official policy’, then it needs changed yesterday.

  3. What do I think? I think you can’t fix stupid and stupid is forever. That, in my opinion, describes the VA.

  4. I was sentenced to using the Seattle VA for 10 yrs. OK, it was the VA for that region and I can say that this does not surprise me one bit. I liked their response “Our policy is no different than Harborview or Swedish or other hospitals in Washington”. The difference is that the Seattle VA is a Veterans hospital and not a hospital for anyone in the state of WA. I have been to the ER a couple of times and he most likely received quicker service by calling 911 than if they would have came out and helped him. Then they realized that the poor excuse they gave would come back to bite them in the butt they recanted and tried to come up with the only excuse they could use to try and keep their disrespect for veterans at a hush. After using that VA for 10 yrs. and then returning to the Indy VA (for 8 months), I prefer the Seattle VA to the Indy VA. I must have very low standards.
    Just another thing to prove how broken this thing is and that it will never get better and it will never go away. Sad.

  5. They only apologized because it went public. The second night I was in the VA hospital after knee replacement surgery, I thought of calling 911 because I was in so much pain. The nurses refused to give me the other pain medication that worked (percoset) until they talked with the doctor, who had already prescribed it. 2 hours later they finally got him on the phone. I get discharged, my wife has to find a wheel chair because my nurse is nowhere to be found, and the nurse from the nurses station not only refused a knee brace so I could go home, but she stood by while watching my wife and another vet help me in to the car. I had to return that evening to have the IV port removed, with the VA suggesting it was my fault for leaving the hospital with it in rather than the nurse who couldn’t be found. I should have gone public since the Patient Advocate refused to do anything after 3 requests to investigate. Lazy, uncaring hacks infest the VA.

    • 91, I would have “accidently” held onto the wheel chair until I reached the end of the parking lot then let go of it. I believe you on the Patient Advocate, I have no idea as to why they are at the VA unless it is to have some one dedicated to deny a vets claim of mistreatment and abuse. I know I would have left that scene letting everyone know how I felt about what was going on.
      “Lazy, uncaring hacks infest the VA.” Agreed in every way!!

      • F8f, I was on morphine and Percocet and just wanted to get the hell away from them and go home. As for the Patient Advocate, I believe their biggest problem is the head of their Patient Advocates here is also the PR person for the local VA. I had a meeting in March with the Chief of Staff and asked him why that was. I asked if a member of the press called asking questions about a vets complaint, who would he advocate for, the VA or the vet? The one Patient Advocate in the room had to put his head down because he started laughing. The Chief of Staff would only say, “that’s a good question”. I have yet to get an answer from him on that.

  6. I am a RN working in an ER. First thing, he should not pull into an ambulance bay. How would you feel if your loved one was coding in an ambulance and there is a man whose foot hurts sitting in the way? Who is going to move his car after he gets out? That’s rude and it’s inconsiderate of his fellow man.

    It is our hospital policy to call the fire department to get people out of their vehicles.

    #1 there could be too many critically ill or suicidal pts to have a staff member leave, you never know how long this will take. Where you there, do you know what was going in the ER? What the staffing was like? No, you do not and I don’t either but I have experienced horrendous situations and someone next door is angry because they want their sandwich right now, or find a different TV channel. You have no idea.

    #2 many hospital staff are women or over 30 y/o, we just can’t physically do it. What if your pt falls and hit his head on the pavement? What if you injure ( more likely re-injure) your back. It’s a real fear. It’s much safer for every one if someone with all the equipment, which ERs don’t have, to do this. Ambulances and fire departments have all this equipment.

    #3 some people are afraid to go out into the parking lot alone after dark. Often people have a dog in the car. Waiting for a police officer to accompany you could cause quite a delay in care.

    People pulling up into the parking lot with what they think is an emergency are very shortsighted and unreasonable usually and I can’t blame them for this. However, they trust us with their life but won’t trust us with this decision.

    Saying he was “STRANDED” is unnecessarily inflammatory language.

    The ONLY thing I see wrong here, besides him driving himself up into the ambulance bay, is the staff should call 911, not the patient.

    • You sound as cold and uncaring as the Seattle VA ER flunkies. Do you work there or at another VA?

      • Just what I was thinking. “Nurse Ratchet”…and I think if a huge number of Veterans were to ever march on Washington, D.C. again, we should ALL be wearing t-shirts with “Lazy, uncaring hacks infest the VA” printed on them…it sys it all in -6- words!

      • I’ve thought about my comment and wondered if it were too harsh. Nope. Its that kind of bureaucratic, must follow the rules no matter how stupid that has contributed to the lack of common sense and people taking responsibility and being held accountable in this country. Another commenter said they should have contacted the VA police to assist. That would have likely been the most appropriate thing to do rather than the cold response of “tough sh*t, call 911”.

        As for the VA infestation, feel free to print up t-shirts.

      • I never meant to sound cold and uncaring, I was trying to present the facts of life from a nurses’ point of view.
        Thank you for your service to our country.

      • I appreciate facts and policies, but at some point common sense has to come in to play. Look at it from a veterans perspective where hundreds of instances of lack of common sense, rude, denigrating, disrepectful and arrogant behavior are witnessed daily at the VA. From your other comment about what you have done to help others, it appears as if you not only have common sense, but are caring about others, and I apologize for my harsh tone.

    • ernurse

      How would you like to be the person with a broken foot or other problem and drive into the ambulance bay and is denied service? When you are in severe pain, the only thing you can think of is getting help. Policy might dictate that he should not pull into the spot, but the human response is that this man needs help and to hell with policy.

  7. Also, I should add, the VA is socialized medicine, which we are ALL going to get soon, real soon.

    • The VA is not “socialized medicine”. I am not sure if it can even be classified as any type of “medicine”.
      In you other post, why couldn’t the VA employee inform him to move his car if it was in an area that could create a problem. The VA has its own police force and the VA employee could have and should have contacted them to look into the situation and make a determination as to what may need to take place and there would have been not much of a delay. the vet could have had a sense of comfort in having the VA police there with him.
      I can understand your comments on the situations that go on in and around the ER. I can imagine it can be a nightmare at times.
      I drove myself to the VA ER three hours away, parked in the parking lot and barley made it inside having an iron deficiency anemia with a ferritin count of 8 and an iron count of 3. I knew I was going to be admitted and I knew that parking in the ER bay was not a good thing. This vet was by himself and was most likely very concerned and in a lot of pain. I think that it should be looked at as a learning experience for all involved and hopefully it will cause a change for the better. Thank you for what you do.

      • I really wish hospitals would post some kind of staff out in ER parking lots at least at night. Too often people pull up in dire straits and need some help now. It wouldn’t have to be medical, just to call 911, keep some wheelchairs around. I don’t know about the VA but sometimes it takes us 10 minutes to even find a wheelchair. The fire department comes first to evaluate and they don’t charge and will help more than we are able to. Our police are very short staffed and won’t move cars. They call a tow truck. I’ve moved cars but it’s illegal and a huge liability. I didn’t mean to sound like nurse Rachet. 99% of nurses work their hearts out. We go out to vehicles all the time and break hospital policy. I’ve called 911 on my own phone. And we know we aren’t protected if we don’t follow policy. We can’t do it at all if we don’t have staff, bottom line.
        I’m very glad you made it in alright and Thank You for your service.

  8. The VA is nowhere near the “quality of care” of actual “Socialized Medicine”. Have a very good friend that completed his Master’s and PhD @ Univ. of Toronto and now has been teaching there for several years and yes, he is American, with dual citizenship and was personally up there when he had his kidney stone episode and the medical care is the same that everyone else pays into and receives in Canada, and it was GREAT “Socialized Medicine”, and his mother is a Hospital Administrator in the States and she even has raved about how the USA should use the “Canadian Socialized Medicine Model”…so I really think it’s easy to throw around misgiving statements about so-called “Socialized Medicine”, but it DEFINITELY is NOT what the VAMC’s are.

    VAMC=Veteran Administration Malpractice Centers…is more to the point.
    “Lazy, uncaring hacks infest the VA.”–could be a Disney Slogan and a movie…but “Muppet Labs” has much higher tech than the VAMC’s.
    FYI-Disney owns the Muppets.

  9. Took my buddy 3 hours to Seattle VA he was in serious pain took him into the Emergency Room admit area and the first words out of the attendent… Do you have an appointment? I said NO. He said he couldn’t help us then. We needed an appointment..!! A nurse heard me and rushed my buddy to the back…. He died 32 hours later…..in that facility!!!

      • Vietnam vet, my condolences to you about your buddy. You know as well as I do about the Seattle traffic and how bad it is. I lived North of Seattle and the roads to get to Seattle are terrible. One road (Interstate I-5) to get from the North to Seattle. All of the Traffic has to travel on this Interstate. I have waited in traffic to get from Everett to Seattle (26 miles) for two hours. The VA requires us to go to that VAMC for non-emergency care or pay for it ourselves. This is where the option to get care elsewhere would be a great model to use. Maybe it would have turned out different in this case.

  10. Ben,
    This story was on my Local ABC News Affiliate…not National, and I live in Great Lakes Region/Midwest. Also, I had sent an email to you today and although the page showed it was sent, I did NOT receive the usual email confirmation that you were contacted…just in case there’s lingering computer issues from earlier this week.

    I only wish that the VA as a whole could make us all proud that it’s in the TV News in a positive light in it’s stead. Did anyone else see this very story in their local or national news?

    At what point, if any, will upper management of the VA and/or members of Congress finally wake-up and realize some REAL disciplinary ACTION is needed to make the VA more “Veteran Friendly”? What’s the tipping point for change in this ‘David and Goliath’ scenario we find ourselves in?

    Upper management on a Disney Cruise?

  11. This is totally unacceptable,when a Veteran goes to a VA Hospital by the front door or ER Entrance he should be treated better than the President,The President did not fight for our Country!!

  12. With a broken foot what was the patient thinking about driving himself to the hospital? What if he would have passed out on his drive to the hospital causing an accident? As a health care worker I agree there should be a team in place to deal with such emergencies when patients are calling from a parking lot, however I do not believe the person answering the phone should be prosecuted in the media…they were just following protocol. Hospitals would not back up a person who “broke” protocol if some sort of unseen circumstance would have occurred and the patient was injured somehow by the employee breaking protocol. The solution…change the protocol….and educate the public in an emergency situation DO NOT DRIVE YOUR SELF TO THE HOSPITAL.

    • Dear Concerned: You and the nurse who commented want to blame the veteran. There are those of us who live alone, don’t have anyone to rely on, and live in an area where the response to a 911 call is a half hour. Additionally, if you are in excruciating pain, you may not be thinking as clearly as when you are sitting behind a computer pontificating.

      • I don’t see anyone trying to blame the vet, we are trying to explain from a nurses point of view what we are up against, the reality here.

        And if one person reads this and manages to do what figure8fan already knew, even though he was quite ill and weak, was don’t park in the ambulance bay.
        It’s dangerous for others and what if he got his car towed. Adding insult to injury and expense. I hate when people get their car towed, so unfair when you’re down and out to deal with that. I said in my first post I understand why he did it, but I also want to say to anyone reading this with an open mind, don’t do it.

        What’s wrong with a little education with discussions?

        I TRULY don’t understand what is wrong with calling 911. He was not denied care.
        This a rather unhealthy sized man. Does he want me, 60 year old lady and 130lbs helping him out of the car? I would not. I would want some firemen or EMTs who know exactly how to get you out quickly with minimum pain and the most safety.

        The people I work with go out to vehicles all the time. If we can safely for everyone.

        Do you want yourself left alone in the ER because they are out helping somebody of of a car, do you want the nurse (illegally, I will never admit to it)parking the persons car, cause it will only take a minute and avoid a towing bill while you are calling for a breathing treatment? Your mom or child trying to get out of bed pulling out all their lines because they are so ill and delirious? The phone is ringing off the hook because a radiologist wants to give a report on someone’s head injury? Think about the big picture here.

        There is NO STIGMA involved in calling 911. I don’t get the horror expressed by this part of the story.

        And someone said what if he were having a heart attack? It is even more difficult and dangerous for me and my 5ft tall 100 lb coworker to get a big Or small sweaty floppy person out of a car. If it’s an SUV or big truck, they fall out of the vehicle on you, it’s a car you have to drag them out and you could dislocate something. I don’t want to be gross but there it is. If you’re driving someone like that, pull over. Call 911. It can cost and I completely understand why people don’t do it all the time, when they should. The person is being deprived of extra oxygen and medication while you’re driving and then arrive expecting us to work a miracle.

        If one does call 911, they come and evaluate you. It’s not an automatic ride to the hospital. They very well may say you’re ok for your friend to drive you. Or you to drive. There’s no charge for that.

        I realize you are concerned vets and want the best for your fellow soldiers.
        I am here defending my fellow nurses and trying to provide some information. If I were going into the Marines, I would want information from other Marines. Not a nurse. If I wanted to know how ERs work, I would want to talk to a nurse.

        Y’all could invite some VA nurses here. That might be good for information.

        I try very hard to be all cozy and pillow fluffy and I know I am because my patients tell me. Sorry if I don’t sound that way, if I did, this would be twice as long and even more boring.
        Life can be very tough and painful and unfair. I understand that.

        I don’t know why ERs don’t put somebody out in parking lots, just to provide direction and wheelchairs or call 911 for frantic people. Well, I know why, it’s money. It would be a big help and a calming influence I do believe. Administrations could do better.

        Thank you for your service to our country. I should have said that in my very first post.

      • I did not make it clear in my post.
        I knew I was going to be admitted to the hospital because due to the nature of my condition. that is why I parked in the lot. If I was by myself as this vet was and knew I could not walk, I would have most likely parked by the ER door.
        I also almost took my right foot off of my leg and was lucky to have someone to drive me to the local ER and we parked in front of the door. I am sure I would have parked in front of the door with that one. I had to pay the $70,000 bill for that one myself as the VA would not approve it.

      • ernurse, I appreciate your input into the reasons why it might be more appropriate to call 911 than to expect ER staff to assist. As a veteran and a former VA RN, I know that your point of view is legitimate in many settings; however, I also know that many of my co-workers (when I was working at VA) and so many staff (when I use VA for health care) do only the minimum expected of them. Nothing more.
        I’ve lay in a VA ER bed for hours (with maybe one other patient admitted) while staff–who outnumbered patients by 3:1 or more–chatted amongst themselves within earshot, never doing anything with us after the initial assessment (even though it was clear something was wrong). As an RN, I was “counseled” by peers to, basically, “do less.” On more than one occasion. Really?
        Your comments about small staff being put in danger by large, floppy patients may be valid in some venues, but every VA has a number of uniformed police/security staff working on each shift. They are first responders (or are expected/paid to be), so they are trained to be able to handle situations like the one in Seattle. This case is not the norm and is not any more dangerous than dealing with a psychotic patient who threatening other patients and staff). So while your points make sense for a civilian ER (I’ve worked in this setting as well and would agree totally if this was not VA), there are clear differences between the two settings, and there is no reason for this to have happened in Seattle, aside from staff complacency and a broken system.

      • ernurse,
        As a combat medic for 20 years, and worked with civilian ambulance companies and now work at a VA myself I find your response laughable. I know first hand how lazy and entitled most (not all) of you think you are. You have been given a responsibility to care for Veterans even though most of you (RN’s) have never served. But let’s put that aside, and remember why you are in nursing to begin with! It is to care for those that are hurt! I’m sorry that this man interrupted what I am sure was a very hectic day in your ER. Was it during lunch break? How dare him interrupt your daily gossip of your fellow employees and denigration of other patients. Take your lame excuses to why you are a poor excuse for a nurse somewhere else. Everyone involved needs to be disciplined and encouraged to find employment somewhere else!

  13. I have heard that “Common sense is not all that common!” This is beyond understanding, a person is right outside a emergency room asking for help and whomever answered the phone telling the person to call 911. I don’t care what idiotic policy was in place as a health care professional you should help! I worked in the civilian and military healthcare systems for over 20 years, a paramedic for a fire dept. and a aeromedical evacuation specialist (fancy tittle for a flying medic) At the fire department there is a policy of no parking on the ramp of the station for any reason. At 2:00 a.m. I was awaken because someone was parked on the ramp and knocking at the door I went outside to see what was going on,. Found that there was a pregnant women in the back seat of that car having a baby, the rules states I ask her to move the car. What do you think I did? I delivered the baby and had E.M.S. transport the mother and child to the hospital.Common sense, Right?

    • Excellent points branjon29! That is exactly what they don’t understand – sometimes common sense and initiative must trump the rules. However, to VA employees the rules must come first – even if that means to put aside common sense. It is also the reason VA doctors see about a quarter of the patients their private counterparts see in a typical 8 hour day. As a senior manager during my career I often told my associates, “stop giving me reasons why you can’t do it.”

      The VA, and these “healthcare professionals” who have commented here, will never understand these points – they are as much institutionalized as the long term inpatients.

  14. VA E.R.’s
    One 96 year old man fell in MAIN LOBBY of Northport,NY VAMC. I was a bit away but saw staff just look at the fallen elderly man and just keep walking. Another in his late 70’s Veteran went to help him up, I helped. He must have injured his outside of right hand because was bleeding, pretty badly. We walked him to E.R. Triage Nurse. He has to register first. Nothing to stop the bleeding. He was holding the inside of his left hand on top. Took him to register, of course to get his VA Patient ID card out of wallet in pocket, blood everywhere. Found out He was on Coumadin , blood thinner. Still nothing from Triage Nurse who was watching all this. I had enough.
    Had to run in to E.R. DEMAND GUAZE.
    But a nurse inside came running out and brought him right in. Not all employees are rotten human beings. One in a few. Out of all this, the old man was panicking Hello would lose his ride. Northport VA is way out in the Boonies. Only transportation is the Volunteer Drivers who pack 11-12 Veterans in donated 7 passenger vans. The service runs only from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    Noteworthy, for C&P exams that are mandated to deny or approve Service-Connected disability claims, a nice private ambulette is provided. They get you in, lie to you, if they even do proper medical exams. For one, I was asked by a resident to sit in a chair, stand up, and sit back down. This was for a complete neurological exam. When you actually obtain the report it is wrought with all types of fiction to deny the claim. As in IME in civilian cases, one is allowed to record. I was denied to audio tape. Reason: No recording on Federal Grounds.

  15. 05/18/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Maybe the walls are beginning to crumble?

    The house of cards can come down quickly.

    Calling the 911 is highly recommended for the civilians, than to show up in the ER [too crowded with those who do not have healthcare].

    The Politicians still do not get it, yet—calling the Dr. in Wisconsin a “bad actor.”
    https://www.wisn.com/politics/wisconsin-lawmakers-talk-with-mike-gousha-about-va-hospital-scandal/32756468

    As Carl Icahn’s Gannett reports on “office furniture, break room equipment and an ice machine”—they forget about the 293 dead in Phoenix that they reported on.

    Maybe the Doctor [WI] pushed it over the edge????

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, and starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and Will Sampson. The supporting cast features William Redfield, Brad Dourif, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Scatman Crothers.—-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Flew_Over_the_Cuckoo%27s_Nest_%28film%29

    —-Nurse Ratchet(s) must be everywhere now!

    I really hope the next few days bring people’s awareness up.

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  16. I was pretty upset when I heard about. Protocols or not, it’s just inhumane when the man was so close and not helped. I’m a doctor at the VA hospital, but in another state. I am saddened that so many of you lump all VA employees into one category. We are not all lazy, and only willing to do the bare minimum. There are 152 VA medical centers in the US and hundreds of doctors and staff that do not fit into this mold you’re trying to put us under. You should just judge those bad member for who they are. Too often, it’s easier to generalize and make blanket statements. Just like if someone in your family does something offensive, it doesn’t mean that everyone in that family should be labeled as such. You get the picture. In any case, I wanted to give my support to Mr. Donald Siefken, and hope that in the future he does not have to go through something like this again.

    • Richard, please look at this from a veterans perspective. We know not all VA employees are arrogant, disgraceful VA employees, but I would be willing to bet a huge majority of veterans would say that kind of employee constitutes a huge majority of those employed in key positions at the VA. I have had treatment at the VA in Grand Junction, Houston, Oklahoma City and Madison, and hands down they all have been a disaster with the exception of Madison. Even at Madison there were problems, but when reported, they were dealt with. Not so at other VA’s who ignored them. VA employees have to overcome at least 40 dead vets in Phoenix who waited on care because other VA employees committed fraud for bonuses. Tomah had at least 4 dead vets from VA employee negligence. Other VAs have had serious malpractice. VA regional offices need to stop rubber stamping claims as denied without ever looking at the claim. Much of this has only become known because of Whistle blowers who are promptly targeted, harassed and fired for speaking up. If you want to overcome vets thinking of VA employees as pathetic, then hold them accountable. Speak up when you see abuse, fraud, negligence and malpractice. Demand protection under whistle blower protection laws. Until that is done, vets will see no change or improvement in the VA. Neither will anyone else.

  17. Anyone trying to make excuses for the VA and this kind of behavior is simply out of touch with humanity and common sense.

    How about this one?

    I posed this question to a VA ER desk clerk after a veteran failed to gain access at an ER door.

    A Veteran is outside the Emergency Room Entrance. She has a bone sticking out of the side of her leg, she is bleeding, afraid, confused and in a lot of pain.

    A sign on the wall has “press button for entry” a “hotline for entry” and another “ph. 555-555-5555 to call for entry,” She tries all three to gain access to no avail.

    I calmly asked an employee at the ER desk ” what was that person supposed to do?”

    He looked me in the eye and said “Well, I guess they will have to learn to be patient.” If I had not heard it with my own ears, I’d call BS, but I did.

    Here is what happened. A veteran came to the ER emergency/ambulance entrance. She did try all three methods posted to the wall (some with duct tape and a magic marker) Her ankle was sprained or broke. After trying all three methods and not getting an answer, she hobbled back to her car and had to drive around to the other side of the hospital where there is another ER entrance that is not locked, however there is no parking within around 400-500 feet from this entrance.

    She got out of her car and started hobbling to the door. A VA employee told her “you can’t park there” she threw him the keys and said ” park it for me” after which he replied that he can’t and she must move it. She walked in and got the care she needed, but she was fuming mad and in a lot of pain.

    I work at the VA also and was going about my business when I struck up a conversation with this woman. She told me her story and while I’m just a painter at the VA, I had to go investigate.

    I went to see what and where the problem is and if I could do something to help fix this issue. I ask an ER room employee about the buzzer, he said that sometimes nobody is at the desk, so no one hears it.

    I asked about the “Hotline” and he told me that it rings in at the desk, and if nobody is there, no one hears it.

    I asked about the phone number to call to gain access, and he said, if nobody is there, no one hears it, then he went on to say, that’s our policy!

    That’s when I posed the question, A Veteran is outside the Emergency Room Entrance. She has a bone sticking out of the side of her leg, she is bleeding, afraid, confused and in a lot of pain, what is she supposed to do? (believe it or not, I am still very calm)

    That’s when he replied with “Well, I guess they will have to learn to be patient.”

    I was wowed and could not believe his answer, but I heard it with my own ears. I proceeded to ask if there was a supervisor around so I could talk to them about the signs and confusion. Nobody in a supervisory position was around, so I asked one of the clerks to come out and look at the signs with me. She came out and we were reviewing the signs when an assistant supervisor came out and said “what happened, did one of the vets trip over one of our signs? (all of the signs were on the wall, she was just annoyed at us I guess because she was not smiling.)

    I was able to get with the safety office and get this changed. Now they are notified even when they are not at the ER desk. But, my supervisor found out and was angry because I was out trying to fix signs and do something other than paint.

    Much more to tell, but here are a few small items. I was assaulted by my lead supervisor at the VA, as were a few others.

    I was actually reprimanded for telling him not to do it again, or else I’d defend myself. For this comment, I was reprimanded from the chief of engineering.

    Nothing happens to these people and they are out of control. There are so many stories I’d like to share, but you would not believe them.

    A man from the “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) team asked what I wanted to see happen to the lead supervisor that assaulted me, I told him that I wanted him fired. He had not only put his hands on me ,but a few others. He also had caused and accident and told a subordinate employee to lie for him to the VA police.

    The ADR investigator said “we can’t just go around firing people”
    I’ve already been to the whistleblower route and found it to be just another farce. Until something happens and makes headlines, nothing really changes.

    There’s plenty more stories as outrageous, BELIEVE it or NOT! I.E.-remember the Veteran that died inside the VA cafeteria while waiting for an ambulance to pick him up and drive him a few hundred feet to the ER, just last year?

    • Wow. Thank you RWW for trying to do the right thing for veterans. So it seems those in the ER who don’t understand what an emergency is is actually more widespread than just one VA. I expected you to say when she threw him the keys that he promptly had her car towed.
      As for ADR, was that a VA employee also acting as the ADR person? Even if it was not, what is the point of having something like that if they refuse to take any action? Did they record any evidence of this meeting? What do you think would have happened if you contacted the VA police about being assaulted? What would have happened if you called the local police and reported being assaulted? In your reprimand, were you given the opportunity to refute it in writing?
      This is like peeling back the layers of an onion and finding a rotten egg in the middle.

      I just find it hard to fathom a culture where so many are so brazen about their actions knowing full well they can get away with it. It’s as if there is no accountability at any level of the VA.

      • Thank you for your comments 91Veteran, I am also a veteran that served and spent a year in a war zone. I can honestly say that after that experience, we all should do our very best for the Vets. Not only those that served in a war zone, but all that put there name on the line knowing the possibilities.

        I did call the VA police, another disaster. I asked them for a copy of the interview and their reply was ” if I did that I’d have to put you down as a suspect” W T F? (sorry) but that’s what he told me. Not only that, when I asked if he was reprimanded they said, “we can’t discuss that with you”

        So it’s private and I will never know if the “lead supervisor” was ever slapped on his wrist. There is sooooo much more to this story that even I would not believe when this happened. I can tell you this, when I was hired I was warned, “you do realize that you are going into a Hornet’s Nest don’t you?

        Not all VA employees are bad, but I can tell you for sure that the bad ones bring down the good ones, while the good ones get into trouble if they try reversing the role.

        Here’s another short story of the VA. A Vet fell and hit his head on the concrete not more than 15 feet from the ER door. A shuttle driver sounded the alarm by calling the VA police on the radio. They never responded with even a “roger” however they did call an off site ambulance. The man laid on the ground right outside the ER door for over twenty minutes until an ambulance showed up.

        By the way, the ambulance entrance sign had a double arrow, one facing toward the ambulance entrance, and one away. I told them about it and was cautioned “that’s not what you do here! About a year later an ambulance driver was confused and complained about it, they called me to fix it asap.

        I could write a book on all of the insane things that I know as a fact and the ones that I am very sure of due to the number of people that has told me.

        Before I go, one more that you will love. THIS IS A TRUE STORY! Not at the VA I work at, but at another govt. facility.
        A man threatened to shoot and kill about 7 people. One person he was just going to shoot in the leg because he said “I like him”. He was fired, then 45 days later got his job back with 45 days of back pay.

        All of the people that he threatened to kill had to take sensitivity training. He was a white male, straight and was just a lunatic that had a habit of saying “a bullet will fix that” and was a gun collector.

        As the doctor told me,”This place breeds that kind of behavior” Anyone that has worked for the govt. for any lenght of time will have plenty of stories like this. I’ve worked at three Fed. Govt. facilities and one city govt. and there is not much difference.

        I wish there was a web page dedicated to telling True Govt Employee Stories. I may post a few more as I will probably end up loosing my job or quitting anyway, I’ve tried the wistleblower hot line (joke) and went to the Union, nothing there, and also an attorney. Several attorneys responded, but when they could not make it into a racial or sexist thing, it was over.

      • Again, thanks for your comments RWW. They give me hope that at some point the good people can win over the bad, but that will only come with sustained effort from management from top to bottom. That effort will need to involve a lot of firings or suspensions. Nothing else will fix it.
        I understand what you mean about the good being pulled down. That happens due to a complete failure of management and supervision.
        As for ER problems, I think if I witnessed such stupidity I would be video recording with my phone at the same time trying to speed dial the media.
        Keep your chin up and know you are fighting the good fight.

      • Thank you very much.
        I really think that this website has given me more relief than anything that I have tried to accomplish thus far. Getting evidence through video or photos will get a person in hot water, no matter how right or wrong. I have a few, but they were given to me from people that are afraid. I am pretty much a lone ranger of sorts and now I’m starting to understand why.

        The wistle blower report I did was a huge waste of time and they want me to provide proof of all of these things. If an employee goes around asking questions or trying to recruit someone to join the fight for justice, you will only find people that are afraid to lose their job, no matter how wrong the problem.

        If you try to take pictures, as I did once, you will have the police on you in a flash demanding that you delete all of the pictures in front of them. I made sure that no Veterans or anyone else was in the picture of the problem areas, but they demanded that I delete them. I can’t even bring them forward in my defense.

        I know that some of these things are hard to believe, but I have nothing to gain by lying about any of it. I am loosing steam and my last action will be the press if needed. Should they decide to tell the story, then something may change.

  18. the problem is, the bad ones are the paycheck employees looking to log in their 20 and split. they don’t care. this government is full of worthless federal “feral” employees. as a veteran with massive bowel issues due to an Army Dr. who decided to play GOD and now over 20 years later, I get bad bowel pains. Dr’s always want to think you’re lying. I’ve endured 5 surgeries on my bowels, not much left, but I have multiple issues dealing with bowels. either obstructions, infectious colitis to name a couple, the VA simple wishes we’d go somewhere and die.

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