“Honor Our Veterans Please; An Open Letter to the VA” by @TanayaLanning on @LinkedIn https://t.co/tJmDCjU6dO
Today my blog belongs to a Facebook Friend …..please be so kind as to reblog and keep this going…….
First about my camera the trip it had last night …hang tight it all will blend into the story of my friend and her father…. I tell you …. the data for the northern lights was really firing up and I wanted to capture them ….. so I grabbed everything and head out the door…but first had to do a walk about because of moose hubby had seen earlier….all clear we can shoot….what is this the new remote with timer is shooting when I don’t want it to….so back in house ….checking disks the shots the camera was taking by itself were there the shots I had pushed the remote for were not…..time for bed….no sleep just night mares of the timer ..and a voice that kept saying ” not your turn mine” …..need sleep because we were suppose to go and have hubby’s third pair of hearing aids checked ….VA gives him hearing aids but won’t listen to him when he has trouble with them…..they give him the best but they won’t or don’t listen when he tries to describe the pain ….they just give him a different type of hearing aids….. so here we are and here is my Facebook friends open letter….
Honor Our Veterans Please; An Open Letter to the VA
Dear Veterans Affairs,
It is 4:21 am, local time in Tucson, Arizona. I am writing to you from the Quality Inn where you send the Veterans that you serve to stay when they are here for care at the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System (SAVAHCS). I don’t live in Tucson and I am not a Veteran. I am the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who is in your care. I live in Seattle, Washington. I find myself here today because my father is fighting for his life in your ICU ward. I am writing to you today because your bureaucracy is incredibly frustrating and quite frankly, your customer service sucks. I believe that you can do better for our Vets and their families when they are in your care. My hope is that you will want to.
I will keep it straight forward and to the point, or in this case, to the bullet points:
Clearly Communicate – My Dad is currently intubated and on a ventilator, but he is also awake, coherent and scared to death without being able to talk, however he can write to communicate his needs. It only takes about two minutes in the room with him to know this. But he’s also hard of hearing, as most Vets his age are because they went to war without the benefit of hearing protection. Yet when your staff comes into his room, the majority will talk at him from the foot of his bed or farther away. It takes less than a minute to walk to the head of his bed, make eye contact with him and speak to him and treat him like a respected person who is expected to improve. But when you talk at him and he can’t hear you, then you walk away or start a procedure, he still doesn’t know what’s happening or why because he hasn’t clearly been told, then he gets scared, agitated and sicker because his heart rate goes up and his blood pressure becomes unstable. Then you have to work for a much longer period of time to get him calmed back down and resting again. Always remember there is a person inside that body that you are working on and clearly communicate with them.
Listen to your Patients – My Dad knows what’s going on inside his body better than anyone else. He knows where he hurts, where he’s uncomfortable, what his needs are, so why won’t you listen to him? You intubated him and put him on a ventilator and left him awake but you never gave him a way to communicate with you. It wasn’t until I asked a nurse for a communicator sheet (the laminated sheet with symptoms that a patient can point at to express their needs and symptoms) that one was provided and then it still took me having to ask again four times before the communicator sheet actually materialized in the room. We had to also ask for paper so he could write to communicate. Always remember to listen to your patients.
Make Patient Advocates Available 24/7 – Our bad luck is to be in your care over a Federal Holiday and a weekend. You are a 24/7 facility and your critical services, should be available 24/7 to support that mission. There has already been several moments where a patient advocate would be greatly beneficial and allow for my Mother and me to trust that someone was also looking out for my Dad’s best interests, but apparently your patient advocate office is only open during normal business hours, so who can a patient or their family members turn to for help in all of the other hours that your staff is providing care? Who do we talk to about the nurse who was clearly much more concerned because her kids were sick and other personal life matters than she was about providing top quality care to ICU patients? The nurse who tied my Dad down so he couldn’t even gesture to communicate before I got there to advocate on his behalf. Patient Advocates should be available on-call 24/7 just like your healthcare is.
Medical Protocols are in place for a reason – You performed a procedure on my Dad in his room yesterday and one protocol is that his charge nurse must be in the room when these procedures are done; except your Doctor started without her. My Dad knows your protocols. He listens to what you tell him and he holds you accountable to follow through on what you say and to follow the protocols you have in place. When you don’t, you damage his trust in you and the care you are providing him. If you have a protocol, follow it.
Tell the Truth – My Dad needs to believe what you say to him so that he can rest and focus on getting better. You are making it really hard for him to believe you because every time you come into his room you tell him something different. One person says “It’s good when we make you cough during suction.” then the next person says “It’s not good when we make you cough during suction.”, so then my Dad wants to know which is it? What is the truth? This is just one of many, many examples that I myself have been witness to and heard firsthand. Every time you change your story, he gets more scared and loses trust in you and the care you are providing him. If you want your patients to get better, always tell the truth.
A Box of Tissues goes a long way – It’s the little things that people will remember and that will leave a lasting impression. Something as simple as making sure there’s a box of tissues in the family waiting area would make our time in that room bearable. It would show your compassion, your understanding that the people in that room will probably shed a few tears before their time there is done. Always keep a box of tissues in the waiting areas.
I will close by saying that I think that your staff is full of great, talented, competent people but somewhere you are losing sight of your stated Mission, Vision and Values and by default causing great people to provide bad service. Here’s your Mission, Vision and Values as a reminder (source, http://www.tucson.va.gov/about/index.asp):
We provide Quality Healthcare to Veterans in an environment of Compassion, Education & Research.
Be a national model of clinical and organizational excellence by providing SAFE, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and COMPASSIONATE healthcare.
Integrity: Act with high moral principle. Adhere to the highest professional standards. Maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom I engage.
Commitment: Work diligently to serve Veterans and other beneficiaries. Be driven by an earnest belief in VA’s mission. Fulfill my individual responsibilities and organizational responsibilities.
Advocacy: Be truly Veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of Veterans and other beneficiaries.
Respect: Treat all those I serve and with whom I work with dignity and respect. Show respect to earn it.
Excellence: Strive for the highest quality and continuous improvement. Be thoughtful and decisive in leadership, accountable for my actions, willing to admit mistakes, and rigorous in correcting them.
Tanaya M. Lanning
the original story was on her Linkedin page
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” ~James Bryce
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~Winston Churchill
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong. ” ~James Bryce
Still Standing MOM ..I am still standing ……