Veterans wait-listed, denied Medical Care once again!!! How many will die this time???

by Terry Richards

UPDATE: After months of  homeless Veterans residing in the Temporary Housing Program at “CALVETS WLA” requesting that something be done about the processing of how they can get Medical Care when immediately need it, in a Memo Dated October 05, 2014, Thomas Bucci, the new Senior Administrator who was Sworn-in on October 03, 2014 states in pertinent part: “We are sending this memo to you as a request from our resident town hall group.” However, amazingly this so-called Memo dated October 05, 2014 never reached the Veteran-Residents until after our November 05, 2014 expose’ story on this Veterans Home which is set forth below. These State and Federal VA Management Employees or Agents and other Staff never cease to amaze me about their inability to be honest and do the right things the first time. As you will read in the Memo, the Medical Care dilemma is still not resolved because there is a 48-hour window left-open before Veterans are suppose to be contacted by staff or for Veterans to contact Senior Management or other staff.
Click to read CALVET WLA Who Do I call for Medical Care

LOS ANGELES, CA – Are Veterans who are residing in the Transitional Housing Program (“THP”) at the Veterans Home of California West Los Angeles (“Calvets” or “the Home”) being put at risk once again of becoming very sick or dying because they are unable to ascertain immediate Medical Care when they need it and request it??? Numerous Veterans who reside at “the Home” say “YES”.

Since September of 2013, “CalVets” has collaborated with the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (“VA GLA”) to operate an 84-bed Transitional Housing Program (THP) as part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) stated goal to end Veteran homelessness by 2015.  The program is located within the Veterans Home of California West Los Angeles’ 396-bed facility adjacent to the “VA GLA” West Los Angeles campus. The THP aims at providing supportive services for Veterans who have been chronically homeless or living in unstable housing in order to help prepare those Veterans for maintaining a stable living arrangement. According to the Agreement, amenities for the THP include: Room and board; three meals plus snacks; medical care and medications; limited transportation services to medical appointments and activities; limited banking services; resident activity programs; and housekeeping services. https://www.calvet.ca.gov/VetHomes/Pages/Transitional-Housing.aspx

Right now the only schedule for Medical Care made available to THP Veteran-Residents at “the Home” is only on Mondays between 10:00 am and 12noon. And even worse than that Veteran-Residents say they can only request that appointment on the Friday before that Monday with “the Home’s” Nurse assigned to “THP” if in fact you can find that Nurse that day to see if there are any appointments available for the next Monday “sick call”.

So when Veteran-Residents can’t get an appointment on the next Monday they are “waitlisted” for the following Monday 10-days away or even possibly longer and told if they want immediate Medical Care to go to Building 500 which is the VA Hospital on the same Campus as “the Home” and request to see their VA Primary Care or Specialty Care Physician or to go see “the Home’s” Domiciliary Chief one Chiedozie Esiobu (who nicknamed himself “Eddie” for easier pronunciation) who is not a Medical Doctor or Nurse.

But when these Veteran-Residents get to the Primary Care Unit at the VA Hospital they are turned-away and told by the Hospital that while they are residing at “the Home” they must see the Home’s Primary Care Physician first. Then if “the Home’s” Primary Care Physician can’t help them they are told, then they can give the Veteran-Resident a referral to see their Primary Care or Specialty Care Physician at the VA Hospital.

But because of the limited “sick call” hours at “the Home” it could take several weeks or months before these Veteran-Residents can see the Home’s Primary Care Physician. And although Veterans can go to the VA Emergency Room for diagnosis (Dx) of their symptoms, unless the Emergency Room Physician believes that they have a critical emergency medical condition these Veteran-Residents are told once again to see their Primary Care Physician at “the Home”, all of which results in a never ending conundrum and game of “musical chairs” for these Veteran-Residents at “the Home”.

Full capacity for at “the Home” for the “THP” is 84 Residents and a medical appointment slot only on Mondays between 10:00 am and 12noon would probably only accommodate 4 to 6 Veterans for “sick call”… What if were 20 or 30 or 40 Veteran-Residents for “sick call” on Mondays???

There are weekly meetings at “the Home” where Residents can supposedly air their gripes and complaints, but unfortunately there are only 2-Themes that the most of the Staff but not all bring to these meetings which Residents say is a favorite and well-known response from “Eddie” whenever Residents bring up issues they want resolved or when they ask what the status is of the Complaint they made last week or last month. Here’s “Eddie’s” and some of the Staff Member’s Themes:

  1. “We will look into that” – (But he/they never really do)…
  2. “We are working on that” – (But he/they really are not).

Writer’s Note: This Writer and Veterans News Service Los Angeles is of course all for ending Veteran homelessness by 2015, but only by providing Veterans with permanent housing, NOT by Veterans dying-off from Neglect, Malpractice, Malfeasance, Dishonesty, Ignorance, Incompetency and the Arrogance of “Calvets” and the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Senior Management. But that’s exactly what is going to happen because like the VA, the California Department of Veterans Affairs uses the “anti-merit system” and hires and promotes its Senior Management based upon cronyism and favoritism rather than competency, experience, and integrity.

It’s really hard to fathom that even after the recent negative publicity of Veterans dying from being placed on long waiting lists some just to get into to the VA Healthcare System for the first time and/or were in the VA Healthcare System not being able to ascertain immediate Medical Care for things like Brain and Lung Cancer at VA Medical Centers throughout the Country; and even after the VA Accountability Act of 2014 (A bill to protect America’s veterans from dishonesty and malfeasance in the delivery of medical services and to hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable to those they serve) was passed by Congress and signed into Law by President Obama; and even after Bob McDonald the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs promised Accountability and positive changes, and even after this Columnist and this Veterans Blog published a recent story about a Veteran at the “the Home” who recently died possibly due to not being able to get immediate Medical Care there when he requested it, that this magnitude of Criminal and Civil Neglect by “CalVets” and the VA could ever happen again so soon!!! www.vnsla.com/2014/10/07/bucciswearin/ .

Are the reasons for the above scenarios due to the arrogance, ignorance, incompetency and Civil and Criminal Neglect of past Senior Administrators and Thomas Bucci the new Senior Administrator of “the Home”, and Peter Gravett the Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, and Donna Beiter Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Director because the State and Federal Department of Veterans Affairs use the “anti-merit system” and hires and promotes its Senior Management based upon cronyism and favoritism rather than competency, experience, and integrity??? Reasonable minds who know how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the California Department of Veterans Affairs operates would answer “YES”.

To “add insult to injury”, Bucci who at his Swearing-in ceremonies in September said that he was going to make “Calvets” a 5-star Veterans Home and that he would be visible and meet all the Residents and listen to what they had to say has not even introduced himself in person to at least the Veteran-Residents of the “THP” nor has he attended any of their weekly meetings but has instead sent Julian Manalo his Deputy as the “hatchet man” to try and make Bucci look like “the good Cop”. Bucci also did not respond to a request made by this Writer by email to have an “on-the-record” interview with him by email about this entire matter.

Whereas, it appearing that this kind of Neglect will continue to happen again and again every day, Veterans News Service Los Angeles is calling on the California State Legislature to immediately Legislate and Pass the Veterans Homes of California Accountability Act which should then be signed into Law without delay by Governor Jerry Brown.

Furthermore, Secretary Bob McDonald should immediately intervene and take immediate measures to change the wrongful Medical Care Policies discussed in this story, as well as use his new powers to terminate VA Senior Management.

President Obama has done more to get permanent housing for Homeless Veterans and to get VA Service-Connected Disability Compensation and Non-Service Connected Disability Pensions for Disabled Veterans more than any other President before him. I would imagine if President Obama had the time to “micro-manage” the VA much of the dishonesty and malfeasance in the delivery of medical services would not cease and desist and would not exist, but unfortunately that is not possible.

Finally, based upon all of the above it’s no wonder why 80% of homeless Veterans surveyed say they do not want to permanently reside in Veterans Homes on or off Federal or State Government Property.

Remember!!! Veterans News Service Los Angeles www.vnsla.com covers the News nobody else does or cares about or even knows about and asks the questions nobody else asks…

cc:

The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by Telephone message at 202-456-1414.

The Honorable BOB MCDONALD, Secretary of Veterans Affairs bob.mcdonald@va.gov and/or Telephone voice mail message at 202- 461-4800.

The Honorable Peter Gravett, Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, peter.gravett@calvet.ca.gov

The Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814 by fax (916) 558-3160 and/or Telephone message (916) 445-2841.

The Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, mayor.garcetti@lacity.org

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Communications Director Clark Lee, clark.lee@lacdp.com

Thomas Bucci, Senior Administrator, Veterans Home of California West Los Angeles, thomas.bucci@calvet.ca.gov

Deputy Administrator, Veterans Home of California West Los Angeles, Julian Manalo Julian.manalo@calvet.ca.gov

Donna Beiter, Executive Director of VA Healthcare System of Greater Los Angeles, donna.beiter@va.gov and/or by Telephone message at 310-478-3711.

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, Steve.lopez@latimes.com .

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