I cannot express enough how disheartening it is to hear straight from a healthcare professional that “sometimes patients get lost in the system.” My husband and I are frequent flyers when it comes to being in the hospital, at the doctor’s office, at a lab, or at the “lovely” VA hospital here in Phoenix. As a veteran, my husband has put in his time in taking care of others. Yet sometimes it seems like it’s easier for us to memorialize those soldiers we have lost, rather than care for the ones who remain. It’s shameful to have a healthcare system that is as cracked and broken as ours, but it is a disgrace that our returned heroes are all too often those who fall through those cracks.
It Is NOT Okay When Veterans Fall Through The Healthcare Cracks
As his caregiver, I have seen my fair share of the inner workings of the healthcare system and to be honest it should be called the health business. There are few professionals that truly and sincerely care about the patient as another human being, rather than treating them like a number. I am sad to say that I have met less compassionate providers than vice versa and that is NOT okay!!! I shouldn’t have to leave the room to grab a nurse because ten minutes had passed with no response to the call button we had pressed for help, either!
In our experience, we have fallen through the cracks during numerous emergency visits and instead of a few hours, we have spent the night due to some type of error. My husband and I were at the hospital just this last week because he was having chest pains and he has a history of heart attacks. It was a day after the anniversary of his first heart attack that he start having the shortness of breath, chest tightness and pain that radiated down his left arm.
When we arrived at the ER we had to STAND IN LINE while I watched my husband try to remain calm as his breathing became more rapid. I told him to take a seat and went straight to the front counter and told them that he needed to be seen now because I believe he was having a heart attack. Long story short, we got two employees to come help me get him in a wheelchair and take him back to do a stat EKG and take his vitals. His heart rate was fast, so they put us in a room to run some tests and monitor him until his heart rate returned to normal.
Unfortunately for us, we were at the busiest ER in the state of Arizona and it definitely showed when it came to how little the doctor or nurses were in the room. At first, we had a wonderful nurse who drew his blood very quickly and entered in all the standard information needed in a patient’s chart. The doctor came in about ten minutes after that to introduce himself and to inform us that the test results came back normal, but he would like to repeat them. Before the doctor left the room, he assured us that we would be discharged in about 3 to 4 hours. Shortly after, an x-ray technician came into the room and performed a chest x-ray on my husband. All of this happened within the first hour of us arriving in the triage room; soon after there was no one to be found.
While we did receive excellent care from the nurses and doctors when they were in the room, it is aggravating as a patient to have two hours go by without seeing anyone. You feel like you have been forgotten and let me tell you it is not a very nice feeling. Luckily there are angels in the industry who are in it to simply help people because they genuinely care about their well being. I am forever grateful for the all the individuals that my husband and I have crossed paths with that have made a difference in his care. I always thank them for being the few exceptions in a system that is failing to give Americans excellent health care.
If I told you all the ideas that I had about some of the changes that need to be made you would be reading a novel and I doubt you are ready for that type of commitment. The motive behind me telling this story is to make it known that there are severe gaps in our health care system and there are human beings that are falling in. We need to spread the word before we can hope for the people capable of making the necessary changes to the health care industry will listen. My heart is heavy to know that it may take years for change to begin, let alone to go into affect.