Veterans in severe pain spend hours waiting for help at VA hospital

A VA hospital in North Carolina kept veterans waiting for hours even as they were writhing in pain and lying on the floor for relief. Images of the vets were posted on Facebook by the wife of another Veteran who arrived at the waiting room with her veteran husband. Huffington Post reports:

“It was the worst thing to ever happen in my life,” Vietnam War veteran Jesse Lee, 63, who identified himself as the man photographed in the wheelchair, said as he described his agony to The Huffington Post on Wednesday.

Lee, who said he has been a patient at the hospital for 16 years, said it’s not uncommon to wait about three hours to see someone. But last week’s visit was one for the books.

“It was really, really bad,” he said while recalling his pain. “I waited about two hours and went up to the nurse’s desk to find out if there was something they could do because I could no longer stand the pain, it was making me sick in my stomach. But they told me to go sit back down in the waiting room. Then after about an hour I asked if there was something they could do.”

Lee says he waited a total of five hours to get help. Hanna McMenamin, who took the photos of Lee and posted them online (with faces covered), told Huff Post that another patient asked for a place to rest while he waited. He was told he would have to sit in a chair. Eventually, the man just got down on the floor to wait.

When McMenamin’s husband, who was there because of back pain, offered the man on the floor a recliner, he accepted. However, after 15 minutes a nurse came and demanded he return to his chair. The man eventually wound up back on the floor.

DeAnne Seekins, the Director of the Durham VA, gave Huff Post a statement, “Our mission is to provide the highest level of health care to Veteran, so upon learning of the incident, I took swift action. The employee was immediately removed from patient care pending the results of an internal review.”

The VA asked Hanna McMenamin to remove the photos on Facebook, claiming the vets didn’t want to be identified. But one of the vets in the pictures, Jesse Lee, told Huff Post, “I’m fine with it. People need to know.”