Monday, February 22, 2016

Red Tape Diary #5: New Patient

Chaz has been seen at the Murfreesboro VA for over three years now. Once a year we go in for his yearly check in. He called last week to make his appointment to find out his PCM (Primary Care Manager) left the VA in December.

Were we notified? No.
Was he reassigned to a new PCM? No

We only happened to find out because we were being compliant by calling in for a yearly appointment. When Chaz attempted to make his appointment, he was informed that he has to now go through a "New Patient Exam." I probably laughed more than a person should. I looked at him and said something to the effect of you are a new patient when you go to a new practice not when the practice forgets about you and doesn't know how to transfer files.

Here's my problem with all of this. Chaz was a "new patient" in January 2013 when he had his first exam at the VA. He has been reassigned to new providers in the past and never was required to start again as a "new patient." Actually this will be his third PCM since we entered the VA. With this one, they only see "new patients" on certain days and only at 10am and 1pm on those days. Chaz can't be seen until the end of March.

What happens if he needs medical care prior to that date? He should go to the VA's urgent care or ER and get in line there.

And now I am done....Our 100 % permanently and totally disabled wounded are required to also take Medicare and have Tricare for Life so they can see civilian providers. That will be happening this week. We will seek a civilian PCM to care for him. Someone that he can build a relationship of care and trust with. We may have to shop around, but when Chaz becomes a "new patient" it will actually be warranted. We would love to use Chaz's free health care at the VA, but we'll just use the Medicare we have to pay for. After all they say you get what you pay for.

Murfreesboro VA we tried. We worked with you. We gave you the benefit of the doubt, but now we are out of patience with you. The red tape is exhausting. And now you just pushed the starting line back again. How many more times are you going to make our wounded restart their journey to healing? How many more times do they have to rehash events and injuries with new PCMs and attempt to develop a relationship only for you to make them start all over again? Don't worry I'll be there at the "new patient" appointment with him so I can meet the newest person who will probably only stick around for a year, maybe 18 months if we're lucky. I am sure this person will be as nice as the last, but we will just be in check the box mode, because we know they'll leave too.

We have actually liked our providers there, but we feel it's pointless to continue going there where the faces are just going to change. We need continuity of care. We do not get that with the VA. No we get whoever can see him when he's there. Keeping up with all of names is exhausting. This is where I am thankful for all the paperwork I keep because how else could we keep up with all the names?!

I keep reading and hearing that the VA wants to be the veteran's choice for service. Well if you want to achieve that goal you seriously need to get to work. Our families have trust issues and you are not helping by putting us on a carousel of care, where we get whoever stops the ride. We need the spinning to stop. We need people we can trust. We need care. VA you need to do better!