The future of socialized healthcare is alive and not so well. It is however on display for the entire nation to see. All you need to do is to go to any VA hospital and see what bloated government can do to destroy the health and lives of its patients. Most any veteran can tell you numerous stories about their experiences at the VA hospital.
A vermin infestation has overrun the kitchen of a suburban Chicago Veteran Affairs hospital and is reportedly so severe that cockroaches routinely crawl across countertops as cooks prepare meals. The insects have even found their way into patients’ food, employees say.
The bug invasion has attracted the attention of a U.S. senator who is demanding to know how the VA is fixing the problem. It’s just the latest scandal at an agency rocked by allegations of abuse, incompetence and the needless deaths of veterans who wait years for medical appointments.
“The workers try to brush the cockroaches off the counters, but the bugs get in the food,” said Germaine Clarno, a social worker at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in the Chicago suburb of Hines, Ill. Clarno is the local AFGE union president and has been working with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel as a whistleblower exposing secret appointment wait lists.
One veteran, in his 20s, became enraged and started swearing in disbelief, demanding to be discharged. But he would languish there another 28 days, sickened every time he had to eat a meal.
Clarno said she witnessed the problem firsthand three years ago when she saw roaches crawling on a dinner plate brought to a patient’s room. She recalled sending the food back before the veteran had a chance to see it and paying for a pizza delivery from an outside restaurant.
“It’s been like this for years, ever since anyone can remember,” Clarno said.
Dietetic technician Kelvin Gilkey has been a VA employee for 33 years. He recounted how PTSD-traumatized veterans in the mental health unit were served cockroaches on food trays on three different occasions last year. One veteran, in his 20s, became enraged and started swearing in disbelief, demanding to be discharged. But he would languish there another 28 days, sickened every time he had to eat a meal. “I apologized and said I would provide him with a special tray but he refused to eat,” Gilkey said. “He went hungry for a couple of days until I convinced him to eat. He even refused to come out of his room and socialize with anyone. I told him I would take care of him.” A second veteran didn’t eat for a few days either, but was lucky enough to be discharged within a week. The third man just accepted his fate that cockroaches were in his food, Gilkey said. Kitchen employees have reportedly refused to come to work, afraid that they would inadvertently bring bugs home. The staff is already down 25 positions – food service funding was diverted toward overtime in the medical ward to fix a secret medical wait list scandal two years ago, said Gilkey, the SEIU union steward for the food service employees. “There’s no one in the kitchen to clean,” he added. “A lot of times you have the cook, in his uniform, going upstairs to serve the meals in the hospital. He’s walking into rooms with MRSA, infections, and everything else.”
“Senior management is hiding the fact that this kitchen is infested with roaches and nothing has been done with it,” he said. “I have spent 33 years here and never would I imagine that we’d treat the veterans like we’re treating them. While we are lying in bed at night, they are out protecting the world. This hurts me.”