WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a recent video aired on Fox & Friends today, a paralyzed veteran who was housed on the spinal cord injury inpatient ward at the Memphis VA Medical Center said he felt "thrown to the wolves" in the video, which showed a nursing station unmanned for an extended period. A former Memphis VA employee and whistleblower who saw the video said patients are typically left alone for about an hour each evening during staff meetings attended by all hospital staff, despite a requirement that at least one nurse remain stationed at all times.
Sherman Gillums Jr., deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America and a paralyzed veteran himself, said, “This video speaks to a need that our organization has stressed to VA leaders, Congress, and the public for quite some time: VA needs more nurses in specialized care services like spinal cord injury centers.”
VA Needs to Increase Nursing Staff
The Memphis VA Medical Center operates one of 25 centers within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of spinal cord injury and disease. As veterans with paralysis live longer due to advances in medicine and research, the need for additional staff to take care of these veterans over their lifetime has also risen. VA is currently the only provider in the U.S. that offers a nationwide, comprehensive system of care for persons who suffer the effects of traumatic injury, dysfunctions to the spinal cord, Multiple Sclerosis, and other paralyzing conditions.
Paralyzed Veterans of America's team of clinicians conducts annual site visits at VA Spinal Cord Injury & Disease Centers (SCI/D) and spoke sites staffed by SCI/D teams. The organization has documented years of understaffing in VA and is currently working with VA to develop a staffing methodology that will ensure nurse-to-patient ratios are adequate to meet demand in places like Memphis.
VA is the Best Choice for SCI/D Long-Term Care
“Memphis VA obviously needs some work. But the issue is bigger than one facility. We hear some tout 'Veterans Choice' as a panacea for VA's problems. However, it's a false choice for veterans who rely on the services only VA can provide, which is why investment in specialized services must continue. This means hiring more clinicians in places like Memphis,” said Gillums.
“We can no longer scrimp on the cost of freedom where our Nation's most disabled heroes are concerned.”
“In the military, we are expected to answer the call of duty. The same philosophy applies in our VA hospitals where providers are expected to be there for our veterans whenever needed. That starts by ensuring we have enough providers to do the job,” Gillums concluded.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)