The VA Swamp

Our president elect, Donald Trump, coined a phrase during his presidential race, “swamp”. He was referring to the mess our country has experienced for the past decade in Washington, gridlock compounded by partisanism. We can’t seem to get anything done because of the gridlock in the congress and senate.

I’ve experienced a swamp mentality in the Veteran’s Administration for many years. The wrong people are in charge of a bureaucracy that has ground to a halt, leaving veterans out in the cold without the well deserved benefits we owe them.

I tried calling my VA Clinic in Worcester, MA yesterday to find out what happened to my insulin prescription refill ordered nearly a month ago. The pharmacy answering service looked up my medical records and stated that there had been a clinical error in placing the order, that it had been place but not shipped. That doesn’t console me when I’m down to my last two doses of insulin for my diabetes. The VA worker then attempted to forward my call directly to the VA Clinic where I go for service, hoping they could shed light on why I had not received my vital medication. Twice I’d called pharmacy answering service and been transferred to a phone system where nobody answers the phone. I waited more than 10 minutes each attempt while listening to a computerized apology stating my call was important and I should hang on. My anger grew with each repetition of that message.

Finally I was ready to go postal, to grab a club or weapon of some sort and drive the half hour distance to the Worcester clinic to see if everyone was being held hostage by terrorists or something. There’s no excuse for this kind of service. It was Friday, the day after the holiday. I kept thinking of Donald Trump’s favorite sayings, “you’re fired”! When I finally arrived I had calmed down a bit. It was apparent there was no hostage  situation, just incompetent VA workers playing dumb about why they hadn’t answered my calls.

After some scrambling to “fix” the problem I had my insulin waiting at the pharmacy in the clinic as well as a box of 30 screw on needles for my Novolog pen that delivers my 2nd type of insulin. The clerk at the front desk scribbled the phone number at the front desk which I quickly showed her in my cell phone’s “recently called” numbers file. There was a surprised look on her face and no further excuses or lies were forthcoming. I had the proof of my many attempts to reach them.

So this was how I spent “Black Friday”, not shopping or fighting the hysterical doorbuster shoppers but instead driving to the VA clinic to get my medications and diabetic supplies. I managed to get lab work completed for my upcoming physical checkup on Nov 28 with my primary care doctor. She’s going to get an earful from me about this incident. My prayer would be that President Trump clean out the VA swamp and get our veterans the care they deserve. 😦 End of rant!

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