Mad As Hell

It’s 2:30 am and I still can’t sleep from being mad and upset. So I figured I would get it out and and tell the world. I don’t normally ever post negative or mean things, but this was eating me up.

To the Central Alabama VA Health Care System – West, Montgomery, AL

I had originally intended to write a glowing thank you note for the wonderful care you have been providing my father during his stay at the hospital. My dad usually speaks very highly of his doctors and nurses at the VA, but the night of 12/27/12 was his first time to be admitted overnight. I drove in today (12/28) to be with him and was impressed with my first experience at your hospital – from the friendly and caring staff to the cleanliness of the facilities to the little perks here and there for the veterans and their families. I even posted high praise for you all on my Twitter and Facebook profiles earlier today. While I don’t want to discount the hard work and smiles of the nurses we had earlier, I was heartbroken late tonight when I was told I couldn’t sleep in the extra bed in the room to stay with my sick father. I understand there are policies and procedures and I even offered, beforehand, to pay for or clean the bed the next day for your troubles just so I wouldn’t have to leave him. I was waved off and thought it might be alright since there were plenty of empty beds around us. I guess a shift change had just occurred because close to midnight a lady came in the room wearing an outside jacket, possibly over scrubs – I couldn’t tell. Without announcing herself or saying “Hello” she immediately asked if I was a patient – I was lying on the extra bed and she had every right to. I explained that I was not and that I was his daughter, pointing to my dad. I then asked if I could help her with something since she had bypassed formalities or introductions and didn’t look to be dressed in nurse’s attire. She informed me the shift change had just started and she was checking on everyone. About two minutes later another nurse came in and told me I couldn’t sleep in the bed because if her supervisor came checking, she would be in trouble. I apologized and got up, got my things together, and left the hospital a little after midnight in tears. I stopped by the nurses station on the way out and explained to the group, through my tears, that I understand they have rules, but I really didn’t think her supervisor would mind me staying with my sick father. She responded that I could stay, just in the chair. I had been there all day, in the chair, and it sits straight up and offers no comfort for the long night. After having sat in it all day, with no one else in my father’s double room, I changed into pajamas and still no one offered me anything for comfort. I had to ask for a pillow and a blanket. I’m not sure what family members do that stay with their loved ones there, but I counted at least 20 empty beds in the rooms around my father’s. I would have GLADLY given up the bed for a veteran or anyone who needed it, but just to tell me to get out of it because she “might get in trouble” seems like a paltry reason to separate me from a sick parent who has trouble breathing.

I hope you treat your patients better than you treat their loved ones. And I hate to think of what elderly loved ones have to look forward to sleeping on or in when with their veteran families at your hospital.

Sherri Ross
Birmingham, AL

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