Justin Gray of WSB-TV Atlanta released a disturbing video this week that shows an Atlanta VA clinic patient advocate pummeling a helpless Vietnam veteran.
The attacker, reported as Lawrence Gaillard, who appears to be still employed by the VA, is seen viciously beating 73-year-old Phillip Webb.
Mr. Webb was at the Fort McPherson VA clinic for some pre-surgical appointments. Unfortunately, his beating resulted in a brain bleed and a three-day stay at a nearby hospital.
The disturbing video is below, if you have the stomach for it:
Mr. Gaillard was arrested for assault on April 28th and released on $10,000 bond. He is suspended without pay and “only allowed on VA property for work-related purposes.”
This incident alone is enough to make your blood boil. Still, the sad truth is it isn’t an isolated incident of VA clinic mistreatment.
An Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report shows emergency room staff at a Florida VA clinic violated policy by refusing to care for a veteran dying from heart failure in 2020.
The reason behind their denial? Their inability to confirm his veteran status.
The delay in his care led to valuable time wasted. The 60-year-old veteran was transferred to another hospital and died ten hours later.
Perhaps more disturbing is that the report goes on to say that the administrators of Malcom Randall VA center went with an “inadequate response” to the report’s findings. The original report recommended that the nurses involved be removed from emergency care.
The administrators opted for written warnings.
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Another leaked VA clinic video, this time from Nevada, shows an 88-year-old Marine Corps veteran collapsing in the lobby. The video is below; the lack of urgency and care is disturbing.
It took two minutes for a nurse to arrive and another five minutes for staff to begin CPR, poorly. Unfortunately, the veteran did not make it.
William Caron, head of the VA healthcare system in Southern Nevada, told the local news that he believed the care was “sufficient.” But, of course, that was before he knew about the leaked video.
After news of the leaked video made it out, only then did his office send a lengthy statement admitting some issues with the care. Again, it shows this clinic administrator’s transparency, which is about as transparent as a brick wall.
It’s not just VA clinic employees causing harm to veterans. The computer systems that are employed even hurt veterans.
A report has revealed that a computer system utilized at a Spokane VA hospital caused varying levels of harm to 148 veterans. Doctors and nurses use the system to order labs, submit referrals for patients to see specialists, and various other administrative orders.
The report discovered that over 11,000 of these orders never made it to their intended destination, causing critical appointments, follow-ups, and other work to never be completed.
In one particular case, it was found that the system error directly contributed to a veteran’s heart failure. Due to medication information not updating appropriately, vital medicine was unknowingly inaccurately stopped, causing heart failure.
The system was developed by the Cerner Corporation, which was paid a staggering $16 billion for the electronic records system. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough claimed this Spring that he was unaware of any life-threatening issues with the system.
However, VA patient safety team had briefed his deputy secretary in October. So it seems there is a severe communications problem at the top of this organization.
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The OIG has investigated a Phoenix VA clinic over a veteran who had been seeking mental health care and who eventually committed suicide. The investigation revealed that the veteran had been passed off to numerous people over many months, inevitably never to receive the care he was seeking.
An attorney for the family, Richard Lyons, said of this particular incident:
“From the day he asked for help, in January of 2019, for the next five months, he talked to eight different people at different levels of the VA.”
If Phoenix, Arizona, and VA clinic issues sound familiar, they should. The famous VA clinic scandal that rocked the nation in 2014 originated largely due to a CNN article that focused on wait times and wait lists at none other than the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
The report found that 40 veterans had died waiting for appointments, to refresh your memory. However, the most infuriating part of the story is almost more to do with the cover-up.
The Phoenix VA had two waiting lists. The list they used to report to Congress was that everything was fine, and veterans received the care they needed in the appropriate amount of time. And the secret list contained between 1,400 and 1,600 sick veterans, some of who waited more than a year for appointments.
It doesn’t seem like much has changed.
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After the 2014 VA scandal broke, one of the developments to come out of the mess was allowing veterans to see providers outside the VA system in certain circumstances. Now the VA is discussing changing that rule due to increased spending.
When the trend seems to show that the VA system hasn’t improved, it doesn’t make much sense to make it harder for veterans to get the care they want and deserve. Watching these videos of our nation’s veterans who have given so much of themselves to their country be beaten, abandoned, and treated like a nuisance is enough to make my head explode.
Perhaps even more jarring are the police reports. For example, the police narrative of Mr. Webb’s beating in Atlanta reads as below:
“(Mr. Gaillard is seen) punching Mr. Webb in the face with both fists, moving him backwards until he was pinned up against the wall. Mr. Gaillard was seen placing his hands around Mr. Webb’s neck then proceeded to body slam him to the floor. Mr. Gaillard then kicked Mr. Webb in the head several times while he was on the floor.”
A VA spokesperson said of the incident:
“This disturbing behavior is contrary to our core values of treating Veterans with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Is it, though?
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