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"The Best Medical Care Money Can’t Buy"

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The health care professionals at the Washington DC VA Medical Center work together, providing Veterans with comprehensive health care in a safe and compassionate environment.

The multidisciplinary team featured here received a note of appreciation from a Marine Veteran who describes VA care as, “The best medical care money can’t buy.” Fear of going to the hospital and being put on “a bunch of meds” was eased with a medical team who understood uncertainty and responded with sincere compassion and professionalism.

A note from a Marine Veteran…

"The Best Medical Care Money Can’t Buy"

"It was suicide that brought me into the DC VAMC. Every suicide attempt and its origins are different. I should know, I work in suicide prevention and crisis management. Mine consisted of a series of condensed events in my life beyond my control. 

I was carrying a heavy load, but I marched on and kept working. It reached a point where the lifeguard had been out in the ocean too long giving out life vests. I began to drown. It was the second suicide call in less than two weeks that took me out. This one was different, and it was one too many. I was done. 

I was put on a leave of absence from work, which gave me time to plan my departure.  It was all too much. I made my attempt and it failed. I awoke 30 hours later. I decided to call somebody for help, but who. Who could I trust?

Carol Ramsey-Lucas, my chaplain. I called my chaplain. She knew that I knew all the tricks and could disappear. She talked me in and talked me down from my state. I complied. I came in. We had a long talk and walked down to the ER. She stayed with me until the handoff was complete. I hated the thought of being locked up, but she made it OK. Carol understood and cared. 

Jorge my inpatient Psych nurse. I was transferred to 3E. A psych nurse named Jorge did the intake. He was relatively new. How this intake went would set the tone for my stay. Remember, I cynically look for insincerity. He was flawless. He made it all very human and very comfortable. Had he not, I would have concluded that I would just say what I needed to get discharged and try again, successfully. Jorge understood and he cared. 

Dr. Gregory Ross my BH inpatient shrink: What would my psychiatrist be, somebody who understood and cared or somebody who had a job as a psychiatrist. My very first words were “I don’t want to be here and don’t want to be put on a bunch of meds”. He didn’t talk down to me. He told me he would talk to me as a colleague who works on the front line. We came to an agreement of conservative RX treatment and a goal. I discussed my aftercare plan for TMS and a four-week neuro-psych treatment. I was discharged as agreed, stable and with a follow up plan in place. Dr. Ross understood and cared. 

Marcus Adolphus the social worker. Marcus stood out above all the others who checked in with me weekly. It’s a difficult challenge to truly connect with a veteran on a voice call. He exemplifies what social worker should be on a phone call for a struggling veteran. He was not just checking the boxes to move on to the next call. He spoke with me, not to me. He listened. He made it abundantly clear he was fully vested in my well-being and healing. Marcus  understood and cared. 

Dr. Edokpayi, my psychiatric nurse practitioner. The good doctor listened, truly listened. I landed in her office, again looking for reasons to not have faith in my BH provider. I found none. She was beyond compare in her professionalism and concern. I told her how I ended up in the BH clinic. I told her this lifeguard had been out in the ocean too long giving out life preservers. When I broke down in tears telling her about that last suicide call, she scooted over to me. She did not hand me the Kleenex box but wiped the tears from my cheeks with tissues. She told me it’s going to be OK and I believe her. Dr. Edokpayi understood and cared. 

Some things can’t be bought. VA medical care is one of them. It is paid for, but not in currency. We veterans backloaded our payments for accessibility this medical care at VHA with sweat and blood long before we filled our VA form 1010ez. I’m 3 months out now and back at work. I am not just alive, but truly living now. This, thanks to the staff at the DC VAMC and the best medical care money can’t buy.  Thank you all."

The comprehensive health care offered by the trained professionals at the DC VAMC contributes to the physical healing of Veterans and reinforces a sense of community, connection and camaraderie. Thank you, team, for exhibiting “A Commitment to Caring” for the whole Veteran -- mind, body and spirit.