21
Nov
07

73.The VA’s Continuum of Care…The Final Frontier

Where Have You Gone? 

These are the Voyages of the Wanderingvet, His aimless mission, to go where no homeless veteran has gone before 

Homeless Log: Definition of a Continuum: a noun, a continuous extent, series, or whole. How does this fit the “Continuum of Care” as the rest of us experienced have experienced it? Not exactly the same does it.

Well if you are a homeless veteran your space ship just took a direct hit and she’s going to blow, Captain. Your Continuum of Care does not fit into any category. Your care follows this route.  Also sadly to say this also applies for any veteran that may change or move within the VA system from state to state.

I always wondered why I went to a new VA hospital I had to re-do my eligibility for my prescriptions. I also had to play 50 questions with the emergency room staff. I have my VA Health-e-Vet Card. It ID’s me for all  VA hospitals I go to. So, I decided to go ask a Social Worker at my last visit in Albuquerque, NM VA Hospital. There I was informed that my records are in the Continuum of Care “system”. Each VA hospital though has the option though to pull those records out of the black hole “Continuum”. I was told that each hospital does not have to though. My case could be recycled back to the beginning setting me back over 10 months of treatment. This scared the bejeezus out of me. The VA is slow, but knocking me back down the ladder that much further frightened me.

It was then explained to me that this included everyone . Any veteran that moves into a new VA system. This is their new security since the crack down on losing data. Once the horse got out of the barn, they slammed the door to the detriment of the patients naturally. Not that they ever had their interests in mind in the first place, we will just call this the new RED TAPE FIREWALL.  Just another way for them to put off doing something until later what they could do today.

I found this out from a savvy social worker there. She knew her systems. This is the third social worker I have spoken too. This one I give high marks to. She is located in Albuquerque, NM. Thank You Caitin. It was well worth lugging my backpack to see you there. You should give lessons to your counterparts in Durham, NC and Birmingham, AL as they are sorely lacking in communications, and imparting information at the level of knowledge and candor you dispense. You incited me to action.

Anyhow, The VA’s system is seriously lacking for us mobile clients. Those clients that are in hardship and have to relocate, tax the “Continuum of Care” for some reason. It is amazing to me that a patient cannot move. For some reason the VA thinks their doctors cannot read a medical record from one hospital to the next. Personally, this is just more of the Veterans Administrations patented bull crap, double jointed, stalling, red tape. I was told to go find a shelter to stay in for six months if I wanted treatment there. Oh Joy. That would be the amount of time for me to be accepted (maybe) into a longer term domicillary care center whereever it was I wanted to be in the United States (but didn’t she just tell me I would have to start treatment  all over again?). Anyhow, the VA is always going to play its hand close to its vest. They have a lot of rules of which none will make sense. Every advocacy organization needs to seek out a former administrator from the VA for its “inside player” actually. The more I learn about the administrative shenanigans and rules of the Veterans Administration the more Machiavellian it shows itself to be. The VA rules and regulations are so twisted, bent backwards, looped, that there is no clear direction on how they actually work all together.

Brothers, Sisters and Friends I am coming to understand how this system is causing the deaths of so many veterans that it was entrusted to protect and care for. American Legion, VFW, DAV, and Everyone of us need to write senators, congressmen, newspapers, our President and start demanding a tear down and rebuild of the VA.

If private doctors were doing to society what is going on at the VA, malpractice insurance would be putting doctors out of business and too cost prohibitive to have. There is something terribly wrong in an agency that has so many rules, is the largest mental health provider with the highest per capita suicide rate. It took the VA 30 years to address Agent Orange for Prostate Cancer while it ignores other cancer types from the same agent just to name a few. It gives fact finding grant for close to a million dollars to a North Carolina Governor for a telephone referral service back to his state agency and the VA for alcohol and drug referrals out of the homeless veterans grant program. It hires 115 priority administrators for battle wounded soldiers to cut red tape when they need 700 trauma doctors and nurses.  They have needed an exteriminator at Walter Reed for years and it took making the television news to get one. Just what in the world is going on there.

All of these problems did not happen over night. The ones appointed to take care of these problems were appointed by other political friends. They wined and dined, home by 5pm. Their appointments were up and they left. They were Democrats and Republicans. The VA unfortunately is a Cabinet Level Post and the Cabinet is a bunch of yes men and women. The Deputy Secretaries are career politicians who are not doing anything to make waves, nor is anyone else there.

So what do we do?

I have an Idea. Fire all of the Politicians, Fire all of the Administrators. Put the Doctors in charge! They see the damages the system has done. Imagine a real hospital! Imagine a REAL VA!

Oh Where Have You Gone C. Everett Koop?

Wanderingvet

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4 Responses to “73.The VA’s Continuum of Care…The Final Frontier”


  1. November 21, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Wanderingvets,
    Have you considered applying for work at the VA? Start locally and build strength from within the walls of the VA. Get your site read there, and have those very doctors and healthcare professionals on your side all working together. You told me to go in and interview my local VA, but I think it could work for you too!

    I have applications pending there. It takes up to a year to get on board. I checked.
    W.

  2. 2 An American
    November 22, 2007 at 6:26 am

    It is unfortunate indeed that the VA has lost their purpose in assisting the population that they have been assigned to serve. Accountablility is obviously needed. Curious that the military has the technology to pinpoint a target thousands of miles away but lacks the ability to keep a universal medical record system for the VA,isn’t it? I suppose that whistle blowing on such things as the conditions of Walter Reed get results…but really,shouldn’t those who work for the VA be professional enough to be advocates for those who they serve?

  3. 3 Jerry Scovel
    April 26, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Dear sirs,

    Whle preparing to build a homestead raft for my girlfriend and I to retire on it occurred to me that it would be an ideal way to provide cheap housing for homeless veterans. I have contacted Chad Pregracke of living lands and waters and they have generously agreed to supply us with some recycled materials to help us cut costs. The rafts will be built on plastic or steel barrels and electrical power supplied by undershot water wheels. With a garden on the roof they could even grow some of their own food.

    Having been a homeless veteran (1969-1970) I know just how much a clean place to live can mean when looking for work. I also know that with the growing “off the grid” movement that the rafts could provide jobs for the veterans. The rafts would be an item that they could build and sell to homeowners along rivers to enable them to get off the grid. I will be building my raft as a factory that can be used to mass produce rafts and I have enough tools to keep 100 veterans working.

    What we need is any surplus plastic or steel barrels, plastic buckets, tools, plywood, 2X4’s, 2X6’s, stainless steel bolts and screws et cetera that we can get. I also need some semi skilled (carpenters, plumbers and electricians) homeless veterans in the Rock Island Illinois area that are stable enough to see the job through. I believe that once this pilot program is up and running it will be self sustaining and can be exported to other cities.

    Jerry Scovel
    6710 n. 1400 av.
    Osco Illinois 61274
    (309) 522-5864

  4. 4 Lindsey
    June 30, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Wow, I am absolutely amazed and horrified by what you shared in this post. I am a Health Information Technology/Management student and I have heard nothing but praise over the VA’s ability to share information between their health facilities using their VistA electronic health record system. I’m deeply saddened by the fact that the facilities you’ve approached are not using it. Do they not share records even by physical means?! …and we wonder why healthcare costs are soaring while the quality of care is in the crapper… It’s probably fair to say that the lack of universally available health records is not isolated to the VA by any means, but I’ve never heard of the problem causing this much of disruption in an ongoing treatment. What you were told is ridiculous. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this, and I’m glad you shared it. You certainly opened the eyes of this health information student. Thank you.

    The DOD and VA have been working 10 years on being able to exchange medical records for veterans and still have not been able to make it happen. The project chief recently resigned in disgust because he realized that neither agency really wanted it to work because the amount of veterans benefit claims it would open them up to. It was not interested in the fact that it could aid in the health and well being of veterans that electronic transference of medical records could aid in treating people.

    -W-


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