When you call a provider at the Veteran's Administration you hear: "Welcome to the VA..." the voice continues to tell you, "If this is an emergency please hang up and dial 911..."
Then comes the menus to take you to different areas of the VA. It started innocently enough. I called the social worker that had been in contact with us to ask a rather simple question.
Had the VA approved or authorized the follow up appointments with Neuroscience and the Neurologist that had treated my husband on May 6th?
She didn't know, but "How were things going?"
So I told her that Rich had is up days and down days. That we had done language exercises and found that some words were beyond his ability to spell or write down. I didn't know if this was new or not, I don't think he'd been asked to do any writing since his stroke.
She said she'd get back to me.
The phone rang a bit later as we were packing up the car to go fishing.
It was a case nurse from the VA. The writing issue concerned her and she wanted us to drive to the ED in Madison right away. I explained to the case nurse that I didn't think the writing issue warranted a 90 mile drive. Rich did not have stroke symptoms that were an emergency. She sounded rather displeased and said she'd put a note in that he was to see the ED [Emergency Dept] after speech therapy. She wanted a CAT scan done. She'd also notify his provider to get a consult from Neurology and ask for his records from GLHP.
I asked why no one had followed up with GLHP yet.
She had no answer.
We went fishing.
At our appointment with the Speech Therapist, Elizabeth asked us how things were going. I saw that she had printout in front of her. She knew about yesterday's call and the follow up notes that strongly suggested we come to the ED.
We were able to establish through some testing that Rich did indeed have Agraphia along with Aphasia. Both were mild but extremely frustrating to Rich.
Was this new? Probably not. We were given exercises to practice at home to challenge the writing and speaking. We left with a lot of thank yous. We'd see Elizabeth in a bit less than two weeks. She had felt that Rich had improved since last week. We left and were reminded to go see the ED.
Oh yeah. The nurses took his BP and asked a few questions. "Why were we there?" I explained because the case nurse demanded we come when I spoke with her yesterday."
The nurses left the room and then walked us to another waiting room.
I checked the clock. Shift change time.
We sat down and waited.
A man with a white coat opened up the waiting room door and asked for Richard. We stood up.
"Why are you here?" he asked Rich. So...my first thought was dislike of this doctor's manner. It was an aggressive manner and his face was closed not open. If you watch people, you would understand what I mean.
Rich tried to answer.
The doctor tilted his head a bit, then interrupted Rich.
I was able to begin to explain what was going on when the doctor held up his hand and said, "Just go to Gundersen and get all of the notes and records. Get the imaging and physically hand carry it here. I'll make a consult note to Neurology. They will call and set up an appointment. Bring them the materials."
This conversation happened as we stood in the waiting room. This person who called himself a doctor was not interested in the patient before him. He was interested in 'getting rid' of him so as not to have to deal with it.
However, the doctor was right. The VA was pretty bad about getting information from another treating facility. Their in house records were fantastic. But the method of getting other records was archaic and next to impossible.
Two days later? I still don't have an answer to an approval for a follow up appointment to see neuroscience. True to VA fashion, they would rather keep his treatment in house so to speak.
I see I will need to call the social worker again. She is going to hate me.
All I wanted was an answer to how the follow up appointments were to be handled.
Welcome to the VA.