Friday, October 5, 2012

What are veteran's hospitals like? A description of VA healthcare.

Veterans need to connect with the appropriate care for their service connected and general healthcare needs. Hopefully most transitioning military veterans are briefed on healthcare and linking up with veteran hospitals. Sadly,many veterans fall through the cracks or have difficulty navigating the VA hospital system. It is of crucial importance that a veteran gets certified for healthcare by the VA as soon as possible. This will help in the continuation of care for current injuries and insure that the veteran is covered for any maladies that may arise in the future.

But what is it like to be treated at a VA hospital? This question lingers in the heads of the veterans that are hesitant to visit the VA. Will they receive the appropriate healthcare and be treated with dignity during appointments or hospital stays? Is the care below that which an insured patient would receive at a normal civilian hospital? The answer it would seem would vary from hospital or region. I have been treated in Los Angeles,Chicago and Florida. I have experienced good care and bad care in different situations.

Some of the best healthcare that i received as a veteran going through PTSD was given at the West Los Angeles VA hospital. There was a dedicated building and clinic there that focused on treating post traumatic stress disorder. I was a part of a program there that used a combination of group therapy,psychotherapy and medication to treat veterans coming back with PTSD. The clinic was led by a social worker named Leslie Martin. She was warm and easy to talk to and often brought her dog to group therapy. (The dog was an actual certified therapy dog and even sported a VA identification badge on his collar.)

What made the West LA VA hospital the best was its people for the most part and by that i mean both the staff and the patients. Perhaps Californian people are just cool like that but i do think the VA hospital there was better than other places. I do have to admit a fondness for California and that might bias my preferences.

One complaint common to most VA hospital experiences is long wait times. I have experienced lengthy waits on prescriptions,emergency room visits,and any other additional testing that a doctor requires at an appointment. I have also had to wait several weeks to a month or more for initial appointments or other things. I have learned that the VA is allot like the military in that you must "hurry up and wait" to get anything done.

I would have to say that the atmosphere and cleanliness of VA hospitals should be improved. I am sure for the most part that the veterans hospital is a clean, sterile environment but i have seen things that make me scratch my head and wonder. Every time that i have used the bathroom at the Hines VA in Chicago, there has been feces in the floor and or walls of the bathroom stall. Apparently, an upset or troubled patient threw poop all over the place. It got to a point where i fear using the bathroom at the Hines VA hospital.

Which brings me to comment on the overall atmosphere of veteran hospitals. For the most part,a visit to the veteran hospital is going to depress you a little. The interior facilities are usually dated,drab and sometimes downright dungeon like. Hines VA hospital in Chicago fits this point well. I will take photos next time. A visit to the VA overall seems to depress and fatigue me which has led me time and time again to skip appointments or not even request them.

However,it is with sincere and absolute gratitude in my heart that i accept this healthcare. I feel any other government could have turned its back on their veterans. We as a group are fortunate in my eyes because we are compensated for our suffering and given healthcare at no cost to us. Yet as a group we tend to come off as unappreciative of what has been given to us. I,for one,am grateful for the medical care that i have received this past decade. I did also have the pleasure of seeing private doctors during the past ten years. Let me say that the care i received at private hospitals outdid and was much more effective than the care i received at the veterans hospitals. Why did i make that statement about the VA versus the private healthcare system. Well,i have experienced excellent care for inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care at a private hospital. The experience there was pivotal to me making progress with my PTSD. I received types of therapy that i haven't even heard of in the years of previous treatment through veteran hospital care. These new and different therapies included EMDR and psychosocial drama therapy or at least i think that is what it was called. These therapies helped me greatly and i would not have received them at the VA. Yet i do credit both hospital systems for my personal level of recovery.

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