A North Carolina couple who witnessed several veterans waiting in pain for hours at the VA hospital in Durham posted photos depicting the heartbreaking scene for the world to see.
Former U.S. Marine Stephen McMenamin and his wife, Hanna McMenamin, were at the hospital on Friday so Stephen could receive treatment for severe lower back pain. On Facebook, Hanna painted a somber picture of the reality of the waiting room, describing a veteran who was “yelling in pain” and another who had seriously injured his shoulder and could not move.
“Both of these men sat in the waiting room in extreme pain for hours upon hours with very little attention paid to them,” she wrote.
One of the photos shows a veteran using his prescription bag as a pillow after he was denied a reclining chair, Hanna wrote, adding that her husband had been permitted one due to the condition he was being treated for.
Although Stephen had offered the man to use the chair, a nurse approached him within 15 minutes and demanded that he sit in the waiting room area.
“Upon seeing this, and seeing how rude the nurse was being, my husband approached the nurse and asked why this man was not allowed to stay in the recliner given that my husband had been sitting in it for 30 plus minutes,” Hanna wrote. “The nurse refused to provide any explanation or even her name, and stormed off while this man was suffering.”
She continued: “Eventually after being completely neglected, he laid on the floor.”
Hanna wrote that the “point of the post” was to “show the issues that exist” at the VA hospital.
“There are good people that work at the VA and genuinely care, but then there are people like this particular nurse who should not be working with our nations finest,” she said.
Stephen told WTVD that he and other patients asked hospital staff if there was anything they could do to man the man more comfortable and they were told no.
Once the man lied down, a nurse began “yelling” at him and told him he couldn’t do that, Stephen said, according to WSB-TV.
He’s like, ‘I can’t get up and I won’t get up. I will be here until you can see me. Can I please have a blanket?’” he said.
The post has been shared more than 100,000 times since Saturday. In an update on Monday, Hanna wrote that the VA was “very unhappy” and asked her to remove the post.
North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger said the incident reaffirms the need for his push to hold VA employees more accountable.
“It’s absolutely tragic,” he said. “It’s frankly reflective of what we’ve seen from the VA, and that’s why I sponsored last year and this year, the VA Accountability Act.”
In a statement, VA Medical Center Director DeAnne Seekins said that the hospital takes any allegations of poor service “seriously.”
“I was made aware of a regrettable incident that occurred in our Emergency Department over the weekend and am thankful someone cared enough to share the incident with us,” Seekins said. “Our mission is to provide the highest level of health care to Veterans, 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.
It is an honor to serve America’s heroes and actions that do not align with our core values will not be tolerated. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality care to the Veterans we serve and being responsive to our patient’s needs. Veterans deserve nothing less.”
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