Miscommunication Blamed For Numerous VA Complaints

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- An 86-year-old veteran called 13 News after he says he received poor healthcare at the Veteran's Administration and a second veteran called after he says VA didn't notify him of VA Town Hall Meetings.

Veteran Dareld Smith's foot is severely infected after he says he skinned his toe on his wheel chair.

"It stings, it burns," Smith says.

Three weeks ago, he says he went to the VA hospital and they wouldn't give him any medication for his foot, instead saying.

"One said keep your foot elevated, put cold pack on it and take aspirin," says Smith.

The VA's Public Affairs Officer, Jim Gleisberg, says it's unlikely for that to have happened.

"It's just hard for me to believe whether he cut his foot here or wherever. If a veteran comes to us with an open wound, then I don't see any reason why we wouldn't treat it," says Gleisberg.

Veteran Leif Dolan told 13 News he was upset he had to learn about town hall meetings on 13 News instead of from the VA hospital.

Gleisberg says the VA puts up signs, posts on Facebook and their website. He says direct mail and phone calling 36,000 veterans would be too costly and time consuming.

Situations like Smith's is why Gleisberg says the one of the biggest issues at the VA is miscommunication.

"Its very hard to communicate, even though we think we communicate well, sometimes we just don't communicate well," says Gleisberg.

Gleisberg says the best thing for Smith to do is contact a Patient Representative.

"If it gets to the point where the patient and the provider are not communicating well together, the patient, the veteran has the right and should have the right, to go to the Patient Representative and say 'look I'm trying to ask the doctor for this, this and this,' and the patient rep can go to the doctor or the provider, a 'go-between,' to make sure the communication is better," says Gleisberg.

13 News called the Patient Representative's Office for Smith and they said they can help Smith immediately.

"You're more than welcome sir to come to Urgent care anytime," said the Patient Representative on the phone line.

"I appreciate that," says Smith.

Smith told 13 News he went to urgent care Monday afternoon and had x-rays done.

Gleisberg also says veterans can join "MyHealthyVet," a website to for veterans to talk to their providers.