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LETTER: Future of health care looks bleak

To The Telegram, Recent articles about the care for veterans at Walter Reed Hospital are very interesting. Early on Jan. 24, having great stomach pain, I was taken to the Superior hospital emergency room. At that facility, they determined there w...

To The Telegram,

Recent articles about the care for veterans at Walter Reed Hospital are very interesting.

Early on Jan. 24, having great stomach pain, I was taken to the Superior hospital emergency room. At that facility, they determined there was no suitable room and I was taken to their hospital in Duluth.

I underwent an operation that day and the first thing I remember is waking up alone in a small room with my feet and hands tied. I was told I had a bowel obstruction or tear.

Later, on Feb. 28 during an appointment with my Superior doctor, I was given a computer printout showing the diagnosis. The surgeon's name was shown, but I was never able to talk to him, despite many requests. This was very disgusting.

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Throughout my care, my incision was examined maybe once and was still draining slightly when I got home.

When I went to the emergency room on Jan. 27, I was wearing my pajama bottoms and when I went home on Feb. 9, I still had them on. I never had a bath or shower, wiped my face once and was shaved once -- at my insistence.

All my questions about how I was progressing were ignored. I did have nicotine patches applied on a regular basis. My chain and medal were missing at this time. The hospital staff denied ever knowing about this.

I was denied my scheduled eye drops from a cataract operation on Jan. 3, even though I brought them and the box with the doctor's prescription on the box (it was from a different hospital organization). The hospital later said the doctor gave the OK to use them, but I never got the eye drops back until I got home.

I miss my St. Patrick's medal and chain, which I had for 30 or 40 years. The medal was never off my mind! On the morning of Feb. 24, a thought struck me to check my jeans pockets. I forgot the thought until that same night. Lo and behold, in my left rear pocket there was my medal and chain. Someone at the hospital obviously placed it there.

My food, such as I could eat, was lukewarm and my water to mix for a chocolate drink was lukewarm. I had trouble with food because of that tube in my nose and down my stomach.

The volume for my TV did not work even though I asked about this three or four times a day and I did not want to reach for the manual control. Every time the head of my bed was raised, my feet went over the foot rail.

On Feb. 5, I was transported by rickety van to Superior to a health and rehab. What a relief -- or so I thought. I was so cold that one day I was in bed with my jacket and gloves on and my hands in my pockets when my nephew visited. The shower/restroom had no heat and its door and the one to the hallway was open. They brought in a portable electric heater which gave off about the same heat as a candle. I would wake in the morning and open the drapes to catch the morning sun and get some heat.

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I also was vomiting frequently, so they brought me a pan to use. That was fine, but not very appetizing at meal time. I was not bathed at any time, nor shaved. My water for a chocolate drink was lukewarm. My eye drops in a kit were still kept from me. Whenever I asked a question, the answer was, "I will check on that and let you know" and I never saw them again. They had no shortage of employees! One person went out of their way to help me and that was really appreciated.

I was to go home on Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. At 2 p.m. I asked them to call my primary driver and a backup to pick me up at 3 p.m. At 3 p.m., no one showed and their caller ID showed no calls. I had called to buy a walker, and that person said he would deliver it to me if I was still there or go to my home. He stopped at the rehab and I was still there, nearly 5 p.m., and my backup ride, who had been told previously I was to go at 3 p.m., stopped by after checking at my home and, together, they took me home.

The first thing I did was put a drop in my eye and remove the nicotine patch and enjoy a smoke, as I had heard you should not smoke with the patch on. Five days later, I had an itchy spot on my back and it was an old nicotine patch which should have been removed when a new one was put on.

I am 72 years old, bad arthritis, walk with a cane, live alone, but I am getting better care at home by myself than I did in either facility.

If this care is indicative of future medical care, and I think it is, then God help us all. No one at either of these two facilities seemed to care; just put in their time and went home. The scabs have now fallen off my ankles from when I was tied down.

-- W.D. "Bill" Bunker,

Superior

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