I was in the VA hospital in Gainesville, Florida last week with a bacterial infection in my blood. They did blood cultures and put me on heavy duty antibiotics. After they figured out what exactly the bacteria were, they were able to send me home with oral medication. I went in with a high fever, and the fever is long gone, but the pills make me feel tired.
This morning I was talking to my daughter up in Saint Paul, and she asked if with all the publicity about the VA if things had gotten better. This is what I told her.
The people you are in contact with at the VA have always been upbeat and seem to be trying to help you any way they can. That attitude has not changed, which is good for us vets. However, it is still the same old VA we had before the nation found out how screwed-up the system is.
They put me in a room in the new Bed Tower at the VA. The rooms look great, but they really aren't. They are all private rooms, which is really nice, and they each have their own bathroom with shower. But the showers are built very poorly—the drain is higher than the rest of the floor. Yes, a modern facility with the latest equipment and conveniences and the shower water runs into the rest of the bathroom and on into the patient's room.
I was admitted on Sunday and left on Thursday. In that time nobody ever cleaned the room. Oh, somebody swept one day, but the sink was never cleaned, and neither was the rolling tray they would put your food, medicine, and urinals on. It is a hospital, and I would just expect that every once in a while they would sterilize the surfaces you use. The first night I was there the nurse dropped a small blue plastic screw on cap from an IV bag, and it was still there on the floor until Thursday morning when a lady came and swept the room. Wanda got hold of some alcohol wipes and would clean off that tray for me. Also, the sink in the room would back up, and we told them about it, but nobody looked into it. Seems to me, a backed up sink would be a breeding ground for bad things.
Now, at Gainesville VA hospital they have built a beautiful building on the grounds to house the loved-ones of those admitted to the hospital, and it's free. It is called the Fisher House, and it cost 2.5 million dollars. It is run by a foundation. http://www.gainesvillefisherhouse.org/
This house was built to house the loved-ones of veterans from out of town. However, nobody ever told us about it until it was time to check out. They all raved about it and how nice it was, but they couldn't understand why nobody told us about it. However, being the VA, that does not surprise me. Since we live over one hundred miles away from the VA, going home and back is a real hardship, so Wanda slept in a chair in my room. When she reached the point that she had to shower and get some real rest in a bed, she got a room at the Cabot Lodge a mile away. We can afford the motel rent, but it just galls me that they build this place and yet have no protocol set up to tell veterans about it.
This past Tuesday I had to drive back down to Gainesville for a CAT Scan. I left home at 4:30 AM so I could get to the LAB to have my blood drawn before the test, and before the line got real long—no lab, no test. So, at 6:10 AM I get to the lab sign-in window, and the woman tells me there is no request for a lab for me. I went early so the results would be done before my test was scheduled.
Well, I didn't make a fuss, if my name wasn't in their computer, I knew I wouldn't get in. So I walked down to X-ray, and talked to a guy there and explained my problem. He had me sit down and wait until somebody who knew something would get to work. A long time later, a lady came and said she couldn't understand why the lab order was not entered, but that she had now done it, and I should head back down there. So, back to the lab I went. Of course now, by this time there were a lot of vets waiting for their turn, and I had to wait a long time for my turn which is the reason I had gone early in the first place.
So I told my daughter that things really haven't changed much at the VA. The doctors, nurses and all the rest of the staff seem to be doing their utmost to help veterans, but the VA system is just as screwed-up as it always has been, and that is such a shame.
Going to the VA for any reason is a stress test. It always was, and it looks like it always will be.
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