Donald Siefkin is a 64-year-old Army veteran. Earlier this year, after breaking his foot, Siefkin went to the Seattle VA hospital emergency room seeking aid. What he found was callous negligence and bureaucratic nonsense that left him stranded in his car, just feet from the entrance of the emergency room.
Siefken had called the hospital looking for help to traverse the 10 feet between his car and the emergency room entrance. Instead of receiving that simple help, Siefken was told that he should call 911, and that he would be responsible for the charges. The hospital employee he spoke with hung up on him after telling him that.
“They won’t come out and get me, do you believe that?” Siefken sad to the 911 operator. “They told me to call 911 and hung up on me.
Listen to Siefken’s call with 911 via The Seattle Times.
The hospital issued a statement following press inquiry.
“I know it sounds counter intuitive because someone is just 10 feet away, but it is our policy to do that,” Chad Hutson, a spokesman for the VA said to the Times. “Our policy is no different that Harborview or Swedish or other hospitals in Washington.
Following further scrutiny from the media, the VA’s comment changed. In a written statement to the paper:
After a complete review regarding this Veteran’s visit to the VA Pugent Sound Seattle campus emergency room, we have determined we did not do the right thing to ensure the Veteran had assistance into the emergency room.
When the Veteran told our emergency room staff that he did not have an urgent or emergent medial issue, our staff should have considered the request for help as a patient assistance issue. The emergency room personnel should have called the appropriate staff to come and assist the patient, ensuring he made it into the emergency room safely.
The statement goes on to state that the hospital is taking corrective action.