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Durham VA addresses viral Facebook post showing long wait in emergency department

Durham VA Director Responds To Allegations Of Neglect Caused By Viral Photos

by Staff Writer 13 · Published March 3, 2017


  • A basic search brings up dozens of articles about this but the only way to comment is by joining the organization that is publishing the story.
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  • Is it possible to comment here and have HADIT contribute a mailbag full of comments?

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There are many questions going unanswered about health care issues. I've heard it said all too often: " The Question is Rhetorical " which has become a joke of late on SNL and many network comedies like Life in Pieces.

I think what's happening to health care is also happening to the way that we communicate by always looking for the negative comment or commentary instead of looking for answers.

So, on this subject I want to add my two cents: When the system has doctors, nurses, Emergency workers, police and fire fighters all spewing out the same flaw in the ointment by telling EVERYONE to " GO TO THE ER if...." If anything, if you have a hang nail or a splinter, a cold or a tummy ache then WE have what we have and the answer as to why the system is screwed up might start right there. Someone should publish a book of ER True Life Stories.

ER doctors do not know YOU. You are a number or the next one up. They are taught to triage so if on the day that you are there because you ran out of meds and there is no one else to call; god help you if someone comes in after you bleeding, or throwing up, or complaining of chest pains ( " Chest Pains ALWAYS gets you to the front of the line ) Don't think that people haven't figured that out and use it. The get a quick EKG then ask about their REAL problem and the get handled. That hospitals and doctors haven't figured this out isn't surprising because the bottom line is if one says: " CHEST PAINS " they must be taken first.

I've also spoken to some ER docs who HATE dealing with " snivelers " who come in to the ER for everything. Well think about it: that is what they are told to do without ever considering the consequences. The methodology is stupid and broken.

Now consider the COST of an ER visit. Who pays for that? No one is EVER turned away so someone pays for it and it are the people with the best insurance. They pay for it in charges that they never look at because in their mind they think to themselves: " That is what I am paying for so who cares what a Tylenol costs? or an 15 second EKG. What in the world can a 15 second EKG show unless someone is having a MAJOR cardiac episode where when the trauma of the attack lingers in the P waves or the T waves? A 15 second ekg mostly shows nothing unless they just happen to be running the test when an event happens. Ask me and I can show you a 15 minute stress test that I was told looked as if I was a 35 YO athlete  but 3 minutes into the cool down when one person was whipping down the treadmill and the other guy was doing his notes, I FELT what I always feel just before an attack happens...I KNEW I was going to have an event so I continued to watch the EKG that the attendants weren't watching. I see a slight fluctuation in one of the graphs and then it goes off the chart. Now I am not having a full blown heart attack but something called an SVT. During cool down my heart rate was down to 92 the shot up to 240 for about a minute. I called attention to the attendants who then jumped up and where trying to figure out what to do. I don't like that feeling but I certainty didn't panic because I KNOW that makes it worse. After the minute it went back to 107 and took a while before it was down to " normal " Now it's documented but I must have been to the ER a dozen or more times and they never saw anything; but I did get to the front of the line; not that I WANTED that, in fact I stopped saying " chest pains " and started saying what they really were: " sensations " but " chest " is the key word so they still move me to the front every time.

My points are this: 1 It's the wrong way to treat health issues in the ER. 2 No one answers the question about what's wrong with health care because they tell you that the question is Rhetorical. and last but not least many ER workers work long hours and are tired of being disturbed at 3 AM when someone comes in with a cough.

I'm sure there may be some health care workers in here who think I'm all wrong and maybe they are Florence Nightingale, or Mother Theresa reincarnate and they hate hearing my two cents. But if they are honest I think that they would have to admit that there are many doctors and nurses who get tired with the trivial stuff. 40 years ago no one went to the ER unless it was a real heart attack, a major car accident, a knife or bullet wound ( not many of those 40 years ago ) or a broken bone the was sticking throw the skin. Pregnant women didn't even go to the ER unless they couldn't reach their doctor and back in the day there was ALWAYS a cover doctor that would meet you at the hospital. It worked then why won't it work now?

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I work in emergency services, but not health, but get to listen to the radio all night long.  The following 911 calls are not unusual;

 "50 year old female stepped on a toothpick and is unable to remove it.  She has walked down to the first floor and will meet you in the lobby".  

"75 year old male with flu like symptoms".

"62 year old male with blister on knee that has not healed in the last four days".

And my favorite and lately most popular;

"32 year old male who has drank too much".  This one is non age or sex related.

Everyone of these calls were unnecessary and a spouse, friend or neighbor could have taken them the the doctor or ER.  All are at night and could have waited until the next day, etc. 

And all of these "rides" were paid for by one of the assistance programs available, i.e., tax dollars.





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I wonder how many stories we will hear like yours and mine vs the others. They're all valid but fall under the old adage about everyone has an opinion. Since you work in that area of gearing real life calls they care more weight than mine which are opinions and hear-say.

Thanks for reporting in!

Do you hear the stories about foreign objects mysteriously finding their way into odd orifices? My medic buddies had many stories like that and used to wonder out loud: How did the rubber duck get in THERE? LOL

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My PCP doc asked me if I had heard the saying: " If you've been to one VA then you've been to one VA." He told me that when I asked him how is it that the West Palm Beach VA gets many things done while the Durham VA seems to find ways to explain ( if one is lucky ) why they can't get things done.

On Thursday the 2nd I hand delivered a letter of discontent to the directors office. One the 3rd while waiting for the UPS truck (ALL DAY MOST OF THE TIME ) I got a phone call from the PCP's nurse informing me that my medications were waiting at the Durham VA at the window. This nurse would allow me to get a word in edge wise and told me that there were only two choice: pick up my medication on Friday or get them UPS on Monday. I was out of medications and had to drive 42 miles to pick up the meds in mild withdrawals and I was shaking and enraged. I wrote a follow up letter to the director on the same day that this incident was happening.

This medication non-sense has been happening for 8 years; always a mistake and a story.

How is it that the news industry can't put one and one together and simply ask Veterans to submit their stories. Maybe an all out humiliation of the facility might get something done.

The director is now answering questions about pictures of veterans on the floor and waiting for hours to be seen. Maybe if she fielded questions about every offensive practice the public would know and the representatives would know and the size of the problem might lead to change?

Or am I dreaming?


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