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agesilaus

VA Hospital/Clinics locked and guarded

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I've been calling the VA in Gainesville FL trying to get an appointment at the audiology clinic where I'm service connected. Called them at least six times over 6 weeks as we moved back down to FL. Never got anyone to answer the phone or return the call. Finally decided that I'll just go there when we get back which we did Friday.

Went down to the hospital this morning finding a strangely empty parking lot. Hiked to the entrance walked in to find a guarded table blocking the way. Was refused permission to go to the Audiology Clinic since I did not have an appointment. Explained the multiple calls and zero call backs. Got the 'mechanics shrug'. Finally they admitted that audiolgy has a one hour clinic from 10:30 to 11:30 AM in one of the parking garages!?

One of my hearing aids is kaput and I'd already sent it in for their one time repair offer. And I think I'm eligible for a new set anyway.

What do you have to do to qualify for the out of VA doctors? I don't recall the name of the program. I guess I'll have to go down to the parking garage to see what's up. I'm thinking about complaining to my Congress critter who is a lame duck right now.

 

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The original program was "Veterans Choice" signed into law in 2014 that has been expanded by the "Mission Act" that consolidated various VA programs into a new "Veterans Community Care Program."

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agesilaus

Here is what I would tell you.  Put your big boy pants on and suck it up.  The Dumb A**'s in Congress have enough crap on their plate without worrying about your make believe problem.  Go to the Garage between 10:30 and 11:30 and try to work within the system.  The folks at the VA are doing the best the can given the situation while trying to keep everyone safe to include themselves.

 

Dennis

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DJW. How was that helpful?  We can work with information and straight answers if we can get either.   I am pretty damn tolerant and understanding but  there are definately  issues out there and they are not always forthcoming with the information I need to work with them.  Having a daughter in health care at St Jude I am cognizant of the issues but I am still pretty pissed about some the issue in dealing with the VA health care system.  IE:  canceled appts. with no notice. New primary with no notice even after the fact.  Finally got a new appointment  and when I checked on it a few minutes  ago it shows to be a video appointment that I may not be able to do. Hopefully it will be done just by basic phone (not smart phone)  I would take the risk using precautions to see a new primary in person for the first time even if masked up and across a 10 foot distance.  I got my big boy pants on  but I know the realities. I even blame rules put in place by Congress that cause problems the VA might fix if they would not be breaking a law.

agesilaus,  Do you use the myhealthevet capabilities to communicate with the VA? It is really helpful- but not flawless. 

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agesilaus,  Do you use the myhealthevet capabilities to communicate with the VA? It is really helpful- but not flawless. Quote

I signed up for an account but in order to be able to make an appointment online you have to go in to the hospital and let them look at the VA card that they gave you in the first place. Otherwise it seems to be useless. Unless I'm missing something

And DJW, is it "doing their best" when they are too lazy or incompetent to change their phone message from "leave a message and we will call you right back" to something like "we are at home collecting our paychecks and don't want to see any patients or do our jobs"? How is it doing their best when compared to the people at the local supermarkets who go to work every day and see hundreds if not thousands of people every day? Or how is it doing their best when every other physician's office is open and seeing patients every day?? Just how are the people at the audiology clinic, located in the basement, far away from any patient treatment floors, overloaded while they sit at home? Keeping these facilities closed is just political warfare.

Ami lastly, congress critters maintain offices in their district that are staffed with people who are supposed to deal with government malfeasance. At least they do if they want to be re-elected. That is what those offices are their for, constituent services. And in the case of this critter I am sure that those people are in those offices doing what they are being paid to do unlike the VA.Maybe you should get your head out of that dark stinky place and learn something about the world.

And if the audiology clinic slackers had changed their message to something like:

"The clinic is closed but we will see you from 10:30 to 11:30 at the parking garage"

The I would not have made a 70 minute round trip drive and would not be making another drive in a few days.

 

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This is a new world we live in today. I deal with Gainesville Hospital and the local clinic here all the time. Covid19 has changed the way every medical practice does business. I do teleconferences all the time with my doctors. It isn't their fault you can't do that. The VA health system has their problems and today's situation doesn't do much to improve things. If you don't like the care you get from them, try private health care. You won't find things much better. Even my cardiologist does all my appointments by either phone or video conference. It's going to be like this for a long time. You can either deal with it or not. Most of my questions get answered through MyHealtyVet online. No clinic or hospital is going to let you in the door right now without an appointment. Chuck

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If you don't like the care you get from them, try private health care. You won't find things much better.

Hmmm interesting especially since I had two other, in office, doctor appointments that very day and I have another one also in office, today. And a laser surgery visit this Thursday. Plus several more in the coming month. Plus my wife had an extensive visit with one of her doc's yesterday. Maybe you need different doctors.

They have made adjustments like removing half of their waiting room seating or asking you to wait in your vehicle until they call you in. But they still see you face to face for the visit.

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31 minutes ago, chuckbear said:

No clinic or hospital is going to let you in the door right now without an appointment. Chuck

My experience has been much the same as yours. My doctor did have me appear in person for blood and urine samples as that is a bit difficult to do by video-phone and she also had Pam come in for a closer look after she fell and bruised herself, but all of our routine visits were phone and/or video.

My VA annual appointments work much the same way with a lab appointment first and then a doctor visit a week later with every other year the doctor is by phone. With the VA so short on staff it is by far the best way to handle routine things as it takes much less of their time and is more convenient for me. 

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We all get frustrated but mostly want to work with the system but we have to know how to do it based on information that has to come from them.

All veterans deserve and should receive care even if they are unable to do it by phone or computer. Think homeless vets or vet on the street due to mental issues.

For myself I will be tickled to death to work with them if I can. I used to only be able to access myhealthevet at library or some other wifi site.  I am often in areas where there is no cell signal. Next week when I have my video appt. ?  I will make a point of being somewhere I can get a call. But I was told it was a telephone consult when I made it.  When I checked the  appts on my healthevet it said a video consult. I currently won't be able to do  a video.  I msgd them to tell them and to ask should I get labwork before the "visit" since they did not specify. Give me information and I can work with it, even a fairly last minute change but I can't pull information out of my A--.

Did anyone know that all clinics in the same hospital do not utilize myhealthevet? I do and that is a complication at times.

Look, I will meet them in a parking lot , or open field or damn near anywhere to do my part but I have to know.

I also want to point out that different VA hospitals and clinics may be doing a better job than others.  

Edited by bigjim

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Howdy!

 I’ve been having problems with my VA hearing aids also. I had and appointment at the Houston VA hospital and I stopped by audiology Department. They gave me a box to mail them off to Denver, CO for repair. The right didn’t work at all and the left worked intermittently. A couple months later they returned my hearing aids. The right worked now but the left one not at all. I called the Houston audiology again and this time they said mail them to them. So today I get a call from the Houston VA audiologists and she says yes the left hearing aid is not working (no kidding). So she is going to send them both to the manufacturer and they will more than likely will replace both hearing aids. Know telling how long that will take. But at least they are doing something. 
Things must be improving with the Covid19 issue at least here at the Houston VA. I also got another call today from the eye clinic and they are going to schedule me for my eye surgery which was a priority that was canceled back in March do to the pandemic. 

” Happy Trails “

Chiefneon 

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Well I believe it is. in a quandry as this pandemic has hurt many of us from the country to the VA! I had to do a Telecall with my Primary Care Dr. in April after I had a stroke and blood clot in my brain in March 09; 2020. With having a speak impediment caused by the stroke I managed to talk with her! I have a podiatry (foot) appointment tomorrow; we have to go to another entrance to be checked for Temperatures; being sick;  etc. then wear the mask in the hospital that is a problem with my COPD!

  I then have an appointment with the PCP in Sept. 15th for all the tests I had from the Stroke. So here it is with most all of us who need health care! 

   We either need to go with the roll or go elsewhere ??? It beats better than the alternative!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Pieere
Wow did I mess up big time on this post!! Sorry!

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Sometimes they do real good and sometimes they seem almost clueless.  The lab here in Albq.. suggested early on that for a basic blood draw for testing and some other tests that they do the draw outside. Maybe under an awning.  Seems pretty smart to me but managment did not go along with it for whatever reason.  Some of the tech still don't understand why.

BTW I had a telephone appointment with my primary some months back. It worked OK.  But he had been my primary for several years and knew me. My new guy for next week I don't know and have nevrer seen so no way will it be as effective as with the old primary.  And yet I was able to see eye clinic for glaucoma test and quick eye test up close and personal.  Also saw the dermatologist pretty up close and personal. Both masked up and taking  the most precautions possible. So why can't  I be seen by a primary the first time even in a tent outside?  This is more as a statement/question than a gripe. Some of this just makes mind go Hmmmmm.

Edited by bigjim

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bigjim

It was not helpful I admit that.  I just get tired of folks bitching about the VA.  If you don't like the care you are getting then feel free to go some place else.  Why would you continue to go someplace that provides your medical care if you believe they are lazy and incompetent?  If you don't like the treatment you are receiving please feel free to take your business somewhere else.  

Dennis

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DJW I have to suspect that you are more closely attached to the VA than most of us.

Anyway it is a military truism that if the troops aren't complaining that is the time that you need to start worrying.

Many of us, the service connected especially, have paid for their VA care with some part of their health. Some with most of their health. It's not like a local pizza joint where you can tell someone if they don't like it they should buy their pizza elsewhere.

 

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Agesilaus

Not True.  As you can see I am USA Master Sergeant Retired and all my "Disabilities" are Service Connected.  My brother who died the 4th of July was a 100 percent Total and Permanent my Father who was in the Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor on Ford Island who died in a VA Hospital.  My Mother who was also in the Navy during WWII was treated at a VA Hospital before she died.  My Grand Father was a Sea Bee during WWII in the Pacific was 100 Percent Total and Permanent.  So yes I have history with the VA

Dennis

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dennis your logic is flawed.  The idea is that the care should be as good as possible for everyone.  If mistakes are being made  not discussing them won't make them get better.  And giving someone a heads up to watch for some issues is not griping it is forewarning with information so something negative does not happen to them and maybe if enough people call attention to it  a change can be made.    Also you don't know about some of the negative issues I or others may have experienced.  Of course you are hearing the negatives and not as often the positives more often than not.  We all know that you can have a  problem outside the VA but the VA is what we are talking about.  I have gone out of my way more than once to make sure some veteran doesn't get poor care as I feel it is my duty to do so and in some cases you may be helping one of the care gives to not make a error.     And sometimes we get frustrated with the screw ups and bad care that we just need vent.   Letting some Vet vent is helping them sometimes and it sure doesn't hurt. If someone doesn't want to do that they should ignore it but putting my head in the sand won't help anyone.

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Bigjim

I see your point and I agree with it to a point.  Then bitch about the important stuff like I don't know my prosthetic legs don't fit right or my prosthetic arms don't fit right don't bitch because you were f@#$ing inconvenienced about getting into audiology or they had to go to the garage during a pandemic or thinking they are lazy because someone did not return a phone call on your schedule.  I don't know what do think maybe they were helping some who had a real problem.  I am all for making it better but when you bitch about an organization that  has thousands and thousands of good folks who go to work every day trying to do a great job for our vet's because of some piddle A@@ inconvenience then it pisses me off.  The VA has done some great things for me and my family and if you are going to come after them for some BS inconvenience then I will defend them to the end.

Dennis

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Agesilaus

Here is another Truism.  Ya spend the first 25 years of your life worrying what other people think of you.  Ya spend the next 25 years of your life not giving a dam what other people think of you.  Ya spend the next 25 years of your life realizing nobody gave a Dam about you anyway.

Dennis

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Dennis you are starting to get it. But you are jumping to some conclusions with only small pieces of the picture. I could rant on and give great detail but this is getting pretty tiresome.  I have had some fantastic care at the VA and give credit for it but even with patience they can sometime drive you over the edge.  I had surgery that left me with some nerve damage that I have just dealt with.  It never should have come to that but One part of the VA screwed up and my little fault was not knowing the system at the time. If I had I would have "complained" until I got some action.  I had a nurse give me a second shingles shot about 1 minute after I told her I just had the shingles shot less than 30days prior when I was there for totally different shot.  I had great care in other areas. It is not all one way or the other.  Plenty of people there are beyond fantastic but way too many are close to useless.  If you have always had perfect care I am really happy for you but not everyone has.  Just because  someone is griping it does not mean they are indicting everyone although it may come across to some people that way.

BTW here in Albq we finally lost to retirement one fantastic device manager in Cardio.  His name is Chas. Struck. His last day of work was Dec. 32, 2019.  And yet he called me at home on Dec. 26 to have me transmit a report on my pacemaker.  After getting it he helped schedule me for battery replacement the week after New Years.  I used to tell other people at the VA he should get a raise.  If  everyone was like him and some others there would be no griping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Timely discussion for me. I have tried two civilian providers here in Colorado Springs and found them less than satisfactory and started back up with the VA at the beautiful clinic here. I was seen within a few weeks of calling, and now that we are back in masks they screen by asking if I have any symptoms and I go in. I am very impressed with the lab, and the temp doctor I saw. Very thorough and competent. Much better than the regional VA in Shreveport. I reserve judgment until I have a permanent Doc and have used them for a while. I did just leave a message for audiology because one of my hearing aids is kaput! I am impressed save for the assistant who did not know how to use healthevet, told me in two separate calls that my appointment was by telephone then looked at the bottom half where it said it was in person. Hopefully I get another assistant wityh the new doc, and if not I will ask for a team change. Being retired and disabled with all service connected I have Tricare for life so can use a civilian doctor if the VA does not meet my minimum expectations. No anger or unrealistic expectations. I was put off when every tech there pulled their mask all the way down when they spoke????? But they had a Purell foam sanitizer dispenser at the door and I used a lot on the way out. Some really nice folks there, and a clueless one in the mix.

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Rv with your medical experience you are ahead of the the game.  One thing that has troubled me over my time at the VA is the support staff.  Keep you eyes and ears open I say though I know you will.  I am currently a little frustrated that I can not seem to see my new primary next week in person for the first time even if it is across a 10 ft distance with all proper PPE. My appoint was supposed to be a telephone consult but the appointment on Myhealthevet showed video visit which I am unable to do at this time. They had someone call me yesterday and I told them I couldn't do video and was told that would be fine. I had msgd earlier did I need labs prior and haven't received an answer yet.   As I said I have had great care at Albq and a good bit that is just screwed up for no good reason.  Right now things are not looking up and I hope I am not being too patient. If you don't advocate for yourself the odds are no one else will.  There are exceptions like Chas. Struck who I mentioned.

Seriously hoping for the best in your case as well as my own.

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I never said that I had any issues with the quality of medical care I get from the audiology clinic. The present set of hearing aids I got from them were a marvel when I received them. They were the first set that actuary worked for me. That was because they had computer technology that amplified sound to fit your hearing frequency losses.

My complaints are what happened afterwards. When first given the aids the clinic folks said bring them back here if you have any trouble, 18 months later one went dead and so I trudged back down there only to be told I had to stick them in a box now and mail them off to Missouri as noted above. And furthermore they would only repair them one time. Took months but finally got them back working again, then some months later they one that had a problem fell into pieces, not dropped or anything either. Called the clinic and was told sorry you are SOL.

Now I'm sure this policy is top down from Washington probably, not the local folks who have only been helpful. That is the cause of my issues. Plus the fact that we called the clinic six times over a month and never got any response other than the 'leave a message and we will get right back to you." Which is a flat out lie. That is incompetence in action why couldn't they change that message?

This garage clinic is supposedly for broken hearing aid repair so we will see how that goes. Other appointments have kept me from getting back down there, I hope to do so tomorrow. I;m sure I am due for a new set on their three year schedule, so how that fits into the clinic I do not know yet.

Now about being 90% deaf. I would never compare it to having horrible combat injuries such as amputation. In my branch of the service, for the most part, every one went out and either everyone came back or no one did, The Scorpion for example. But still, living in the world where you cannot understand what people are saying to you is not exactly the same as a scratch. It basically rules your life and isolates you from society. I'm not looking for sympathy, that's not my way of life. But I don't look to be belittled either.

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Hang in there dude and don't be too patient. You never know where the actual problem is. Is it local or further up the line. I can't prove it but some of their policies are based on cost.  I just recently that in recovering from hernia surgery at Memphis I was given a 1/4 dosage of what they give children at St.Jude. One result is I ended up having to stay the night and ended up with about a $750. copay on my part.  I wish I could name the medicine for you but I can't without asking my nurse daughter who found out about it and questioned them. Evidently I had a hard time coming around.  Contrast that with the last 2 times I had other procedures at a different VA and came around in hours and was able to go home the same day even earlier than estimated.   There is no way that it is easy to manage all that but there definitely needs to be a pretty high standard of care.  I won't even claim I deserve it but I dang sure believe most Veterans do.

Of course in the interest of fairness there is no question that dealing with covid make it infinitely more difficult.

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I believe you can get new ones every 5 years.  They will repair as long as they are repairable.  They repaired my fathers dozens of times.  To the point when the folks would see my brother come in they would ask if Don had broken his hearing aids again.  When one of mine started acting up I sent a My Health Vet private message to Christina who is the Audiologist here in Fayetteville and she said swing by and call us from the parking lot and someone will come to your car get it and take a look at it.  So I did someone came out I gave it to them 10 min later they brought it back out with a new amp in it.  Works like a charm.  I think how you treat the folks at the VA goes along way towards how your service experience turns out.  Treat them like they are lazy or incompetent and they will F@#$ you over every time and do it with a smile on their face.   I have found treating them with respect and gratitude even when things might not go exactly how you planned or would have liked goes a long way.  Maybe just maybe that is why I have my Primary Care Doctors personnel cell phone number on my contact list.

Dennis

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OK to wrap this up. I finally got back down to the VA parking garage. The 'clinic' was a folding table in one corner of the ground floor, with 5 or 6 people waiting for customers. They wave you in, keep you in your vehicle and one comes over to talk with you. My right HA fell into two pieces, after getting the one repair. He carried it over to the table, they had a confab, came back and said he was ordering me a new one. And would mail it to my home. As usual excellent service from the local people here.

Searching on the net I got a replacement intervale from 3 to 5 years depending on the web site. The three year period was on a VA site but from 2008. I think they may repair it until they can't get parts now. I don't have a complaint these aids have been the best I ever had, Orticons. When they gave them to me they said that they were $7000

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