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Seattle VA hospital staff refused to walk 10 feet to help disabled vet into ER, demanded he call 911 instead


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(NaturalNews) Army Veteran Donald Siefkin wasn't asking for much when he called the emergency room at the Seattle VA Hospital on February 27. The 64-year-old was parked just a few feet from the ER entrance and was in severe pain from a broken foot he had suffered earlier that day. The pain was getting worse, and his foot swelled to the "size of a football" on a 3.5-hour drive to the Seattle-Tacoma airport from his home in Kennewick, Washington.

While preparing to take his wife to the airport to catch a red-eye flight, Siefkin had "stepped down funny and heard a snap." During the drive, the swelling and pain increased so he decided to head straight for the Seattle VA hospital to seek medical care before attempting to drive back home.

By the time Siefkin reached the hospital parking lot at around 3:30 am, the pain had become excruciating, so he called the emergency room front desk to request assistance getting inside. He could no longer walk because of the swelling and the pain, and he needed someone to bring a wheelchair and push him inside the building.

This sounds like a manageable request, right?

The hospital employee who answered the phone refused Siefkin's request. After a brief argument, the employee told him, "No, we're not going to come get you. You're going to have to call 911 and you'll have to pay for that." The employee then hung up on him.

A Seattle Times article about the incident says:

By 3:47 a.m., a Seattle fire captain and three firefighters manning Engine Company 30 arrived to wheel Siefken into the ER. Staff members examined him, took X-rays, put a boot on his foot and prescribed Hydrocodone for his pain.

Siefken, who declined to take the medication for fear he'd be unsafe to drive, drove back home to Kennewick after the hospital wouldn't put him up for the night. He arrived four hours later, took a painkiller and crawled into bed.


When initial inquiries were made about the case, Chad Hutson, spokesman for the Veteran Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, said: "I know it sounds counterintuitive because someone is just 10 feet away, but it is our policy to do that."

Later, however, the VA contradicted that statement and issued a written apology, which stated in part:

When the Veteran told our emergency room staff that he did not have an urgent or emergent medical issue, our staff should have considered the request for help as a patient assistance issue. The emergency room personnel should have called the appropriate staff to come and assist the patient, ensuring he made it into the emergency room safely.

Siefkin was satisfied with the apology, saying:

They said they're sorry and they're going to change things so this doesn't happen again. That's all I really wanted."

Siefkin's experience was far from the worst that the men and women who served our country have endured in recent years. Thousands of complaints have been filed against the VA, and in many cases, veterans have died while waiting to receive treatment or have been killed due to malpractice on the part of VA doctors and staff.

This case is just a clear illustration of how absurd and wrong-headed VA policies and practices can be.

This incident begs the question: how can President Obama justify busing illegal aliens thousands of miles to drop them off in U.S. cities, when a VA hospital can't even wheel an injured vet 10 feet to receive medical care?

After all, both are the responsibility of the Executive Branch.

Sources:

http://www.seattletimes.com

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