Below is my most recent attempt to bring attention to our Silent National Crisis after I caught attention of a developing story, as I drove to work last week, that something was going on at the Veteran Administration’s (VA) hospital here in Phoenix. As a healthcare worker I did not find the story shocking. As a veteran I found the story a disappointment and am angered.
Today, less than a week later, as a healthcare worker, again, I am not shocked but as a veteran I am more disappointed and angered than last week. Why? The VA story is no longer a headline or even news in most news agencies. It is even more frustrating that not to long ago a single plane, that on day one I knew had fallen out of the sky without survivors, was breaking news and not just every day but at the top of every hour of every day for more than two weeks on almost every news agencies, television, radio, print, internet and whatever other medium there is. Yet, so-called “breaking news” in healthcare lost its steam over the weekend. And to what? To what some bigot sports personality said. Who cares? Yet, such insignificant story displaced the shenanigans in healthcare.
Nonetheless, I sent the below letter to Ms. Megan Kelly from Foxnews. Not because I watch or listen to her show, “The Kelly Files” on Foxnews, but because that was where I first heard the so-called “breaking news” regarding the VA.
I live in Phoenix. I am a veteran. I AM A NURSE. The Phoenix Veteran Administration (VA) story you headlined as “breaking news” a few nights ago, although newsworthy, is not new but instead a silent national crisis and a systemic secret of healthcare, veterans or not. Your mother, who you said is a nurse, will agree.
Here is why [your so-called “breaking news” is NOT new], special interest groups have taken healthcare down the wrong tracks by suggesting healthcare workers be incentivized based on “numbers” performance. Not that I have a problem with being paid or getting bonuses for the work we do as I boast, “I work for free or I work for full price but I do not work for cheap”. However, regardless of which numbers, “door to doctor times”, “length of stay”, “meeting core measures” (i.e. blood cultures, antibiotics, aspirin, etc.) “customer experience”, “door to balloon times”, and on and on, the practice of financial lure or consequences, sometimes, well, many times, leads some to cheat, as is the alleged case at the Phoenix VA.
Now, although patients dying while waiting is tragic and the most repugnant of all the collateral damage “cooking-the-books” leaves behind it is NOT the only casualty nor is it news. Following is a very short list of media coverage, of countless, that have NOT gotten traction to expose the malignancy of rating healthcare for the sake of incentivizing those in healthcare, whether administrators or healthcare workers.
…and there are many many more.
Disclaimer: Despite I authored “The Customer is NEVER Right: A Nurse Practitioner’s Perspective” my intent with writing to you is not to get national attention for my book. Having said that, I wrote the book described as, “…a useful contribution to the current healthcare debate going on at many levels in our country," hoping to expose the greater picture of what has been unveiled in Phoenix. Unfortunately, as so many before me, my attempt has fallen on deaf ears.
As a veteran I will tell you, veterans do not see the VA as an entitlement, as most of us had no idea the VA existed when we raised our right hand to serve our great nation. Instead, veterans see the VA as US taking care of OUR own and our commitment to each other of not leaving anyone behind. Unfortunately, that is not the VA in the news.
As a healthcare worker I will tell you, healthcare is the only industry dedicated to helping others. Unfortunately, special interest groups have taken healthcare, not only at the VA but more so at private healthcare systems, down the wrong tracks and the collateral damage left behind is appalling.
I can only hope your exposure of the VA in Phoenix is not just another “let’s jump on the veteran bang wagon” for the sake of ratings, especially since the story is no longer a cable news headline. Instead, I am hoping that your exposure is genuine, not only for veterans but for healthcare. Because of that I ask you, and I am sure your mother will agree, to not turn your eyes away on healthcare as so many others have done.
Thank you for your time and attention,
Jose Angel Torres
U. S. Army Combat Medic
END of letter.
It is likely this latest attempt to get healthcare’s dirty laundry noticed will fall on death [sic] ears, again!
I am trying but this is getting to be so old! No wonder so many before give up. Not to mention the risk of retaliation from pushing the issue.