Photos taken inside a North Carolina veterans hospital that demonstrate a veteran lying on the floor and another slouched in a wheelchair while writhing in pain are drawing outcry online and an internal investigation.
It was the worst thing to ever happen in my life, Vietnam War veteran Jesse Lee, 63, who identified himself as the man photographed in the wheelchair, said as he described his agony to The Huffington Post on Wednesday.
Lee, who lost his leg to diabetes, said he was among several people waiting at the Durham VA Center on Feb. 24 after experiencing severephantom leg ache .
Another veterans wife snapped the waiting roomphotos and posted them on Facebook on Saturday.Theyve since run viral, catching the attention of Rep. Robert Pittenger( R-N.C .) and Sen. John McCains daughter, Meghan McCain, who called the scene shameful .
Lee, who said he has been a patient at the hospital for 16 years, said its not uncommon to wait about three hours to ensure someone. But last weeks visit was one for the books.
It was genuinely, really bad, he said while recalling his ache. I waited about two hours and went up to the nurses desk to find out if there was something they could do because I could no longer stand the ache, it was stimulating me sick in my belly. But they told me to go sit back down in the waiting room. Then after about an hour I asked if there was something they could do.
In the end, Lee said, I sat there for five hours in this pain.
Hanna McMenamin, who told HuffPost that she snapped the photos during a visit with her Marine husband, Stephen McMenamin, backed Lees description.
In her Facebook post , she described insuring Lee hollering in pain and borderline convulsing and virtually falling out of his chair he was in so much pain.
Sharonda Pearson, a public affairs officer at the medical center, told HuffPost Wednesday that it expects to have an investigation of the situation completed by March 10( reviews typically necessitate 10 business days ). She added that the photos were taken on one of the busiest days in its emergency department and that 100 to 130 people came through the facility that day.
All of the allegations will be investigated, she said.
One incident involved a patient who ended up on the floor reportedly after his request for somewhere to lie down was dismissed.
He could barely stroll, sit up, or breathe, McMenamin said in her post.
Lee remembered watching the same thing.
Eventually the man laid down on the floor and they ran in there and picked him up and set him back in the chair, Lee told HuffPost. He said, I cant wait in the chair. Im too weak. I need to lie down. They said, You can sit in that chair and wait. Eventually, this young man who was sitting in a little region there, he was sitting in a recliner, and he offered him the recliner.
Eventually, the man laid down on the floor and they went in there and picked him up and set him back in the chair. Hanna McMenamin
McMenamin said that the man who offered his recliner was her husband, who was provided the chair by the staff because of his lower back pain.
The relief was short-lived, however.
This man sat in the chair for probably about 15 minutes before he was told he had to get up immediately, McMenamin said.
When McMenamins husband asked the nurse why the man couldnt have his reclining chair, she said, the nurse stormed off without an explanation.
Lee said that after insuring the man being placed in a regular chair by security, the man went back onto the floor. Soon, he said, security returned and took the man to see a doctor.
Durham Medical Center Director DeAnne Seekins called it a regrettable incident but one she said shes thankful was brought to the centers attention, she said in a statementTuesday.
Our mission is to provide the highest level of health care to Veteran, so upon being informed of security incidents, I took swift action. The employee was immediately removed from patient care pending the results of an internal review, she stated, referring to the nurse on duty.
McMenamin has since said that the medical centre has asked her to remove the photos, which do not include the patients faces because some of the veterans dont want to be identified. She has refused.
Lee, when asked by HuffPost how he feels about his photo being demonstrated, responded: Im fine with it. People need to know.
Asked what hed like to see changed, he answered: If somebody is in that much ache, I think they should notice it or take better care of the person. I wouldnt think that nobody would be there faking pain.