DURHAM, march 1, 2017- A North Carolina veteran had been experiencing pain in his lower back, but what he saw when he arrived at the Durham VA Medical Center hurt him even more.
Stephen McMenamin and his wife, Hanna, were in the center’s emergency room last month when they were disturbed by the treatment of other waiting veterans.
The couple opted to snap several photos — all of which have since gone viral — and shared what they saw on Facebook with the hope of prompting improved treatment in the future.
Hanna noted there was one nurse in particular who seemed to be the issue and added they’d received sufficient care from loving VA staff in the past.
The startling images see a man in a wheelchair slumped over in pain and a second veteran suffering from “pneumonia-like” symptoms, Hanna said in her social media post.
“He could barely walk, sit up, or breathe,” she wrote, adding he was yelled at by a nurse who wouldn’t allow him to sit in the reclining chair her husband offered him.
“Upon being approached by the nurse (who was extremely rude to him), he told her he could not sit up and needed to lay down. She completely disregarded him and demanded he go sit in the waiting room area, leaving the recliner completely empty.”
After repeatedly telling the nurse he was unable to sit, the veteran gave up and stretched out on the floor.
“That’s somebody’s dad,” Hanna told WRAL. “That’s somebody’s grandfather.”
The other veteran in the wheelchair, Jesse Lee, told the news station he visited the center for phantom pains in the wake of a leg amputation.
“Somebody in real bad pain should be seen,” Lee said. “It felt like a railroad spike was going through my foot. It’s like one of the worst pains you’ve ever felt in your life.”
Lee said he waited in pain for several hours before he was treated.
Director of the Durham VA, DeAnne Seekins, told WNCN she felt the photos taken by the McMenamins don’t tell the whole story.
She admitted there was a long wait at the emergency room — with 23 vets being cared for ahead of the ones pictured and 26 more in the waiting room — but believed they still received excellent care.
“I feel very, very good because those veterans received high quality care,” Seekins said.
She said one veteran was not aware his picture was being taken and asked for the image to be removed. He even apologized for laying on the floor.
“One veteran is extremely upset because he said, ‘I’m a very private person, you know, I was here, I was sick, I didn’t need someone taking my photograph,’” Seekins said.
The McMenamins disputed Seekins’ claims and continued to stand by their post, which now blocks out the faces of the ill veterans. They also said the VA has reached out to them and said they are conducting interviews to get to the bottom of the incident. (www.nydaylinews.com)