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What does the VA health-care system need to improve?


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  1. Yeah I've been through with and wish I could be through with the Atlanta VA system. Finances forced me back to the VA when cost of medication co-pays got out of control. Little did I know, but should have what came next, VA Clinic referred me to Atlanta VAMC for Pain Management & Rehab Clinic. Took almost 4 months and upon my arrival Dr at clinic said "Oh we really don't do pain Management here, but that's OK your clinic Dr can take care of your pain medications no problem". Like a fool I believed, 2 more months to get into clinic & see Dr. brought prescriptions from private Pain clinic Dr. 'cause phone advise line told me they could fill the scripts even before Dr saw me. Reality check desk person at clinic said no you'll have to wait till you see the Dr. I asked they make sure the scripts went into my records so Dr. could see. Seen by Dr. Dr decides to cut medication strength and change one medication to another, 'cause why keep doing what's working right? When I protested and explained that my CRPS has been flaring and current meds were barely keeping the pain in check. Drs response? "It's my licence and if you don't like my decision you can go back to the private pain clinic". Yeah except I can't. I tried to get by on reduced meds but after a week tried to contact Dr. before the pain trapped me in my bed. First call on Monday morning spoke to clinic nurse left message. Tuesday afternoon still no reply called back, was told "Dr has 72 hours to respond". Waited till Friday..yes Friday afternoon by the time I got a live person it was just after clinic closing time, nurse on phone said Dr had made a referral to send me back to... Atlanta VAMC Pain Management & Rehab clinic. VA Ping pong and how they make bad things worse, Drs who spend more time ducking the treatment of patients than they do actually treating patients.
    Current situation: Attempted to contact patient advocate- phone rings endlessly with no answer or voice mail. Did get a hold of someone at the hospital who made my situation known to Director. Did things get fixed? No.. Clinic Dr. finally did return my call but he referenced a call I made 3 weeks after my original call, he said he must've been on vacation when I made my original call. Of course he has no explanation how the referral to the Atlanta VAMC PM&R clinic got into my record 4 days after my first call and supposedly while he was on Vacation. Last disposition again a referral to PM&R clinic which called me late Tuesday afternoon with a Wednesday late afternoon appointment. 2 problems with that 1st I rely on DAV Van to get to Atlanta VAMC (over 60 miles away and over an hour travel time) DAV Van needs advanced reservations for seats and they only cover morning appointments and leave the hospital at 12 or 1 once everyone's done. 2nd problem when Dr. cut my meds back and now almost a month later I'm in so much pain I can't even leave my house. Tried explaining to PM&R person trying to setup the appointment TWICE since they didn't put the first call they made to me into the system I had to explain it again this morning. So I'm sure the Atlanta VAMC director thinks she's done her job, and the Clinic director thinks they've done theirs, the Anesthesiologist who supposedly works in PM&R but wasn't there the day I was probably thinks it's my fault that I can't make an appointment, and last but not least the Clinic Dr. who's sent me to a living hell of pain is probably hugging his precious licence and preparing to not help the next Vet he sees for treatment. Me? I haven't won the Lottery so I can't afford better care than the VA system. The VA System? Well I've been a disabled vet since 1980 and having experienced the VA System then and now can only wonder how they think patients can wait indefinitely for what I can't help but feel is substandard care while asking Veterans to travel hundreds of miles to play VA Ping Pong.. One Bright note for those in Michigan who look to the Traverse City VA clinic, the staff there are awesome, and it's sad the Detroit VAMC handcuffs the clinic Drs in order to increase the Detroit VAMC's numbers.

  2. I agree with those of you saying they ought to give us the option of receiving care at the VA, or seeing private physician. Guess which most of us would choose. Hell, because I'm 100% SC, my wife receives ChampVA, and that's sure better than what we get. Truthfully, I think the VA is another huge Federal bureaucracy that, like most of the others, is a failure. Their Pledge & responsibility to Vets is to provide the BEST healthcare in the world. It's time to put your $$ where your mouth is

  3. We are also frustrated with the way things are being handled. At our facility a new wing was being built. The contractor used inferior materials, took the money and ran with the project barely started. When they received bids to find someone to finish the project, the same contractor was picked again! Thankfully, someone was sharp enough to stop it, but the end result was only half the project being finished at the same cost instead of the two floors they were going to have. Such a waste! Government bureaucracy is incompetent at best and "bonus money happy" at worst. Almost everything done at the administrative level is based on how big their bonuses will be. This is a totally inappropriate way to handle our citizens' tax money.

  4. I know most Vet's are disgusted with the whole Health Care system, pretty much a given, just go ahead and die so we can move on to the next case. I have my biggest bitch with the compensation side of the house: Two vets, same years service/same general physical condition/filed about the same day: One gets a rating of 60% in 12 months(yea,I know I'm dreaming!!) The other is still waiting 4 years later/gets a reply from the board of 0% rating??? How does that work?? I really don't understand WHO/WHAT is reviewing Comp. Claims. If you ask your RSO; he/she runs the same scam on you the VA does. Do the RSO's really represent the Vet's or is it the VA?? Just asking.

  5. Need to close it down, every Pearson that should have the right for the government to supply Heath to vets should be given a ID card and be able to go any place they would like to go. This means any hospital, doctor, and drug store they would like. Instead of spending money on equipment, up keep, buildings and personnel. All that money can be. Put to good uses, real Heath care for the vet.

  6. The VA system needs to greatly improve its quality of surgeons and hold surgeons accountable for their medical mistakes. I understand that one of the VA's goals is to teach students/interns how to become surgeons, but I think it is unethical to do this at the expense of veterans. We have already served our country, and shouldn't have to be "guinea pigs" so that students/interns can be trained too. The students/interns provide substandard care that causes veterans the most complications when students/veterans are allowed to perform or assist with surgeries and/or procedures on veterans. The students/interns should get their training somewhere else. Also, when surgeons make mistakes -- such as poking a hole in a veteran's intestine during a colonoscopy with fatal results or fainting in the middle of a veteran's surgery from a condition the physician knew he/she had, surgeons should be held accountable. It is not enough to do a root cause analysis, and then, go on as if nothing had happened. Surgeons need to be held accountable for their medical mistakes, and the quality, or lack thereof, of their surgeries.

  7. Better administrators. The top jobs should not be held by bureaucrats as political favors. We need qualified leaders running the show. It would be VERY nice if the top jobs at VA facilities were held by VETERANS. And stop giving them bonuses for poor performance!

  8. I came to the American Legion in Tucson Az. 8 months ago. I asked, Are you in any type of affiliation with Phoenix Regional VA. He told me absolutely not. We are here for you guy's.

    One week ago I spoke with the same guy and told him I still have not received my spouse pay for 2 years now. He then told me he was going to Phoenix for training. So I said "Wait a minute " You told me 8 months ago you had nothing to do with training or anything else with Regional. He said Actually Regional ratings division and most of all regional offices are Ran By American legion. He now is stating to others including my AW2 adviser telling him to email me and have another POA take care of my issues and ratings help.
    What a cheap washout. I don't care if he has a Silver Star. Anyone who goes behind a disabled Veteran and lies, then try getting rid of me because I'm smart enough to catch ya. Is worthless and dishonorable in my opinion. No wonder 53 Veterans are dying every day waiting for their benefits. So, besides the 40 recent Vet's dying because of "Secret Appointments" .....Whats the Secret the VA/American Legion is hiding from not only myself but others as well? How bout some answers. Or should I just turn my journal/phone conversations over to some real concerned Vetrans who want to help.

  9. I hope someone out there has an answer for me. Hell as an O.I.F. Veteran you would think someone besides this guy in Tucson or Phoenix knew my case by now.

  10. Easy fix, get rid of it entirely! IF someone who put on a uniform deserves free, universal, life-time health care, give them insurance just like I have as retired military. Give them something similar to Tricare. This multi-billion dollar boondoggle called VA Health Care is a rip-off to the veteran and to the American taxpayer!

  11. the co pay system is bad i am ret and on ss and just had surgery in feb and recd. a bill for 1500.00 from the va for co pay i cant afford that but have to pay it or they will come after me thru the irs

  12. My local Vet. Care Center does an awesome job. They respond in a timely manner and always take care of my needs. My only problem is the communication with the doctor while I'm in his office. They are not very attentive, don't answer my questions directly and pretty much ignore my conversation. Terrible bedside manner.

  13. I have received nothing but the best treatment from my VA out patient local clinic. I have had the same excellent primary care Doctor at our local clinic for years,and the general staff are great. I have always been treated with the greatest respect. And the same goes for our VA Regional Center. Due to the number of returning Veterans from our
    recent conflicts,it can be expected that there will be some problems. But I feel that with in a short time many of these issues will be cleared up. Today's VA is not the same VA of the Viet Nam era. Please accept my thanks, to the VA,Staff,Nurses,and Doctors of our VA.

  14. I could write a Blog on this. My main concern is the care is more of an assembly line. You're in you're out. No time for really listening or doing what is really needed to treat you. Doctors who don't speak English so there is a language barrier. I have a VA Hospital here in town but have to drive to another hospital to see a neurologist, and drive even further to another VA Hospital to see an orthopedic surgeon. That needs to change. Should be able to be treated in one facility or if not be treated locally at a civilian facility at the VA expense. I was over medicated with NSAIDS so much my stomach is now a mess. I'm paying for treatment outside the VA system since they wouldn't do anything about it. Yes, there just needs to be a complete overhaul of the system.

  15. Remove the maximum income limits. The VA should be available to all Veterans regardless of income. Expand the services offered at CBOCs. Expand CHAMPVA to cover all dependents of SC Veterans.

  16. Bring modern medicine to VA health care. More funding from congress. Provide care based on success, not the cost of medicine. Since companies always cry for tax breaks, provide one for companies the cut cost or provide consistent free newer meds for VA care. (And not just overstock or unsold). I had a statement from a VA caregiver(we get what we can at the lowest price, so from time to time the med might look or be different, but it is always performs the same job).

  17. I agree. It is ridiculous that Veterans cannot get non-formulary/name-brand meds, when those meds are the best option for a particular ailment.

  18. Would it be possible to have house calls? Way back when Noah was still alive doctors were able to make house calls. What has changed? Or, even better, nurses qualified to do exams and interns who are trained in physical therapy. Those vets who are facing PTSD could be treated in their own home. More opportunities for our doctors, nurses and interns to complete their internship in a timely manner.

    How different would that be than today's in-home nursing care? Private organizations set up care for patients on a daily basis in their own home. This is an avenue the VA has overlooked.

  19. The VA does offer Home Health Care, including VA physicians, nurses, home health aids, physical therapy and psychiatric care. However, the Veteran must exhibit a need--generally for totally disabled and/or housebound Veterans.

  20. I am a 100% disabled vet. With that said, here is my problem. I live in Virginia but the closest clinic is in Maryland, 30 minutes drive away. To use this facility I have to be attached to the Maryland system with the main hospital in Baltimore, 3 to 4 hours drive away. Now there is a VA hospital in Hampton Roads, Virginia, 2 hours drive, but if I use that hospital I can't use the Maryland clinic. Why, with the computer power we have today, can't I use the Maryland Clinic and the Virginia Hospital. Does this seem unreasonable?

  21. I know that some people have troubles with the VA. I have had only good experiences with them. I've been going there since '77 and have always got good care. I paid my co-pays and let them bill my employer paid health insurance. Tax payers can't pay for everything. I don't think that I would want to go anywhere else. For those that are having problems, I hope you get them straitened out. The disability backlog is disgraceful. That needs to be fixed quickly.

  22. In my opinion, most of the "poll" results are nullified because the major concern for veterans is going to be whether or not there will be qualified MD's available who will want to meet the demands of VA requirements related to how care is provided. My last VA MD quite after three years because they didn't "get into medicine to be a computer technician". It took almost 10 months before I was assigned a new physician at the CBOC I am assigned. Introductory first words out of their month was she had quite her Private Practive and moved south to be closer to in-laws. Why, did she quite her practice? Because of Obama Care. Couldn't make ends meet. Currently employed by the VA through an employment service at a set hourly rate. No benefits. Said it took several months just to learn the VA way of doing things. Said 4 or 5 clicks on the computer just to get to something related to me. I asked if they thought it would get better with physician complaints. They said no, it is such a bureaucracy. Works longs hours just to get all the "computer work" done after seeing patients. The physician was pretty thorough, I thought, but I left thinking they will probably quite too, and I'll have to wait for another one to be hired. At least the next years care is ordered. So, the major poll results should show a concern related to adequate MD coverage. Without that, the nuts and bolts of the system are gone.

  23. Agree with the general idea and tone of your comment. I believe that a country that cannot or will not care for it's veterans does not deserve to exist as a country.

  24. The promise was "Serve your country and we will provide a medical benefit for the rest of your life". The VA was created to help fulfill that promise. It is there to help but it is hamstrung by funding problems, availability and bureaucracy. Enrollment should be automatic at discharge. ANY KIND OF DISCHARGE. I know someone who was blown up twice in Afghanistan used too many pain pills and received an "other than honorable" discharge. She is obviously PTSD and pretty scary. No help from the government of course. Money is a BIG part of the problem. Now that we are "drawing down" the military were seeing some of the hidden costs of war. Not just financial also broken human beings. I know we can't afford it but we made a promise. Open the doors. Vets show be able to show up anywhere and and say,"I need help." We've given help to big business, lots of help, when we couldn't afford it and we hadn't made them any promise. It's going to hurt but it's time to bite the bullet. Open the doors. Keep your promise.
    When we see the real cost of war perhaps we'll be more a lot more careful when we offer up the lives and well being of our citizens.

  25. This woman needs to file a PTSD Compensation Claim. The OTH discharge does not preclude her from VA Compensation Benefits. Since she is a Combat Veteran, and can establish the Service-Connection/Disability Nexus, she should not have any problem (other than exhaustive waiting) winning her claim. Once she's awarded Compensation for the PTSD, she needs to apply for a discharge upgrade. It can be done. Help her find an American Legion VSO or DSO who can help her and represent her in her claim against the VA.

  26. I always get the feeling that the VA employee think they are doing you a favor. I don't think they care at all about veterans, just about getting their pay checks. Maybe more veterans should be hired to do these jobs. I drove all the way to Montgomery and was seen for about one minute and that was not by a doctor.

  27. If you feel qualified for a VA job, you should apply. If you are qualified, you will have a chance to implement you ideas of care and concern for your fellow veterans. BTW, if you were seen by a Physicians' Assistant, you were seen by a doctor.

  28. Actually, if you're seen by a Physician's Assistant, you were seen by a Physician's Assistant. They are NOT Physician's any more than Paralegals are Lawyers.

  29. Money! Money! But not just money, it must be spent properly. I have noticed a vast improvement in the overall attitude of the employees at several VA Facilities in very recent years. This is a step in the right direction. But attitude alone does not get the job done. Higher quality personal across the board. More personal to meet the demand. For those who do not live near a VA Hospital the utilization of civilian doctors and medical facilities should help to reduce the overall cost. When you factor in travel reimbursement/lodging just how much monies would be saved? Perhaps not nearly enough but is that because the VA Doctors are underpaid in comparison to their civilian counterparts? Perhaps we would see a significant improvement of the medical care we receive if the pay was comparable. By utilizing out-side medical facilities and paying a comparable wage to those within the system I strongly believe that medical care would be much quicker and more beneficial. As an example I have a knee that needs replacement and have to go through three VA facilities to get the job done. First to the Out Patient Clinic to be referred to the nearest VA Hospital which has to refer me to the other VA Hospital which can accomplish the surgery. And I must go to the Surgical Hospital at least twice, once for a consult and then hopefully for the surgery.
    The outpatient clinic is 50 miles each way. The nearest VA Hospital is 125 miles each way and then the VA Hospital which can perform the surgery is 335 miles each way. Totaling 1700 miles in travel reimbursement. All of which could have been handled by a trip to the Out Patient Clinic and a referral to a civilian hospital 125 miles away, if even necessary to travel that far. This is just one example of how things could be handled much more efficiently. I'm sure that there are far more extreme examples out there every single day.

  30. Did you read the story about the ARCH Program? Experimental program created by VA for us out in the boondock types. I get to use local doctors.

  31. I have access to a local CBOC for primary care and some specialty services. For other services I have to go to the VAMC, but I am reimbursed for my travel expenses. I have been sent by my primary care provider to a civilian ER. It was all paid by VA, including the outside specialty services that VA does not provide. The system works; I'm glad to see it is working for you, too.

  32. it must be nice to get all you er visits paid for the v.a. triage sent me to the local e.r. 3 times spent 2 weeks in local hospital v.a. never paid keep reappealing still deni pament cost me thousands out of pockit i don,t have

  33. There's a simple solution; give us the option of private insurance paid for by the VA, instead of using VA facilities. We would get better care, faster, and it would probably cost less as well. And I do not mean putting us all on Medicare, as too many doctors have already bailed from it. Simply, they should either select a private insurer, and pay them to provide us with coverage, or provide us an allowance to purchase a plan of our choice.

    Even if it meant having to pay co-pays for everything, I think I would opt for private insurance over going to the Atlanta VAMC, especially for certain specialty clinics that are either impossible to get into, or that have a full staff of incompetent doctors. The supplementation by Emory doctors doesn't eliminate the incompetence. I nearly had an Emory doctor do an unnecessary surgery, that would have done nothing but make the problem worse, because he didn't know, and then wouldn't admit that he was wrong, when I pointed out the mistakes.

    We, barely, have control over what doctors we get to see, and I don't think most Vets know that if they have a problem with their doctor, that they can request a new one. If we do, we're limited to the doctors employed by the VA, which in some clinics means a choice of two. In the private sector, we are limited only by the number of doctors who accept it.

  34. The system needs to out source more services to the real world that can manage more efficiently. The Internal VA System is blocked by beauracratic road blocks that slow everything down.I am retired VA and have seen it first hand.

  35. The VA medical benefit needs to be eliminated. All Vets who have war related real injuries should have civilian care paid by the Congress. All others need to have Obamacare or Medicare. Having a separate health care system is a wasteful entitlement.

  36. Outsourced services cost more; the net effect is doing less for vets and putting more money in the pockets of the health insurance companies. No thank you. I hope you are never in a position to implement this idea.

  37. General Patton type leadership with authority and resources to fix what is broken, ability to fire incompetent employees and a program to take suggestions from the Vets that VA is supposed to take care of and act on them immediately. Carry a big stick and beat the crap out of red tape and stupid decisions.

  38. A new VA program called ARCH is being tested in Arizona and a couple other states. It allows you to be seen by a doctor or other procedures by local doctors or even by a hospital. I had ultrasound at local hospital in Kingman. Call Prescott VA hospital then ask for ARCH coordinator. She will explain in further detail.

  39. As permalink stated areas that only have hospitals 2 1/2 too 3 hours away need to contract with local doctors. Many folks in remote locations can not see doctors as the drive is anywhere from 3 too 4 hours one way for a 20min. appointment. Case in fact Lake Havasu Az. you either go to Prescott AZ or to Phoenix AZ

  40. First thing to do is get rid of Shinseki then anyone else having worked for VA for over 5 years. Maybe get rid of the corruption that way. They say it's too hard to terminate someone?? Pretty easy to say, "You are fired".

  41. Given congressional funding constraints, Secretary Shinseki is doing a great job, but that's my opinion. Of course, I never agreed much with Airdales when I was in the service, so I'm not surprised I disagree with you now. People whose first instinct is to fire someone (before the facts are in) are the same people who salt their food before they have tasted it.

  42. VA needs to do more contracting with private doctors and hospitals this would help with the congestion at the VA FACILITIES and make it a little easier to get to see a doctor and will help the Vets by not having to drive long distances to a VA FACILITY.

  43. Or lacking the funding for your approach, the same service for congress that our veterans receive; equality, one way or the other.

  44. I am in total agreement with that, but congressman just seem closed minded when it comes to our veterans.They should be doing more, AFTERALL IF IT WASN'T FOR THE VETERANS THEY MAY NOT BE THERE AT ALL!!

  45. Out of ten people working for the VA system, two might really give a sh#t about the vet's they are supposed to be helping. New or at least Better facilities are always promised; never seem to be built, fair compensation ratings are usually out of the question, at least on the Vet's end of the stick. The VA health system is out-dated, under served, and pretty much uncareing. There are exceptions in the system just few and far between. Just throwing money at it won't fix all the problems in the system, better doctors(?) and nurses would help, maybe some of them would have English as thier first language, more construction monies ( with someone made accountable for how it's spent)would be a good second step. I guess we have to remember, It didn't get this ugly overnight, it sure as hell won't be fixed overnight. or maybe if all us old Vets will just drop dead, the young ones coming in the system may get better treatment.

  46. better doctors. I was actually told, when questioning my primary care dr about her refusal to prescribe a med I needed that 'I am not going to jeapordize my job for you" WTH. get rid of the Podunk physicians.

  47. But this is our fight, we need to get our heads out of our butts and do something about the way we are being taken care of! the white house does not care, we all know that by now he11 they are standing by as our Soldier's die. it's up to us again to fight with a pen and a phone! we VETS need to take charge of our care, we have been lied to and should not take this crap. So call write till they get sick of seeing and getting our call's! and vote out the same one's that put us here. May God be with all of us, we have lost to many to war not to have Great medical care when we come home.

  48. My experience would say 8 out of 10; you apparently have had a different experience or different expectations. I place the total blame for morale and level of service provided on insufficient funding from our Congress; and it's likely to get worse.

  49. Many civilian hospital in the country are not up to their capacity. Veterans could be treated at these hospitals with the VA PAYING THE BILL

  50. Please be advised, as a Vietnam veteran, and as a retired Air Force officer I am pleased to hear veterans can now begin to receive private health care vs. having to travel the long distance to the nearest Veterans health care facility. I personally have stopped going to the VA for my annual physical exam and instead visit the offices of the SOBEL family health care clinic. They have provided wonderful health care for myself and my family for years. Now that the U.S House of Representatives has unanimously voted for private health care authorisation for Veterans, I wish to recommend the SOBEL family health care offices. They are located at 4550 E. Bell Rd. Phoenix, Az tel.602-996-6668

  51. Totally agree. Get rid of the VA System, let Vets go to civilian Doctors & facilities and the government pay for it.

  52. I agree. Talked to my congressman face to face about this and was told I will get you and answer tomorrow,6 month later still waiting. Election time they will say anything. Need to make all congress and senators be veterans, then they would know what we went thru.2 1/2 yrs. still waiting on C&P decision .What a joke.

  53. I agree with both of you. I had to wait 3 days to get in to a clinic when I was having trouble breathing because of a cold that could have turned into pneumonia. By the way I have asthma so any cold is a problem for me.

  54. It is time to close the VA hospital system and only keep a system that guide the veterans to local facilities for care and treatment with the VA picking up the tab. The VA hospital that I use only evaluates and sees for 1 visit anyone needing physical therapy. If more visits will be needed they allow the veteran to go to a local facility for therapy. They also require me to come in for a visit at least every 18 months even though I am still working and have private insurance and am healthy. I take a visit time from a veteran that needs it. If I do not go, I will be purged from their system and will have to start over trying to get in their system. What a waste. Time to close the system down.

  55. If they are cutting our pay, and benefits what make's you think they would pay the bills? But 3 to 4 years before our VET's get in to just see a Doctor is nuts! So something has to happen, we are losing VET's every day over medical issues that can be prevented. So in God's name do something to help our VET's!and stop turning your backs on them.

  56. Agree, vets would be better served in civilian hospitals. VA would provide the insurance money.

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