Veteran says VA system could cost him his foot

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Frustrated veteran Donald Jackson claims he may lose his leg because he has had to wait for care. The Virginia Beach resident called 10 On Your Side because he doesn’t think the Veterans Affairs system is working for him.

The 69-year-old Vietnam vet has diabetes, bruises easily, and has a severely infected leg. Jackson’s primary care physician is at the Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Virginia Beach.

In early March, Jackson showed the infection to his doctor. He never got a referral, so on April 1,
when the infection grew in size, he emailed the doctor: “I do not want to lose a foot because you are over-worked.”

“She has not responded … the system is broken and somebody’s got to fix it,” Jackson told WAVY.com

Jackson wrote to his doctor, “I have an open sore on my ankle that oozes. I am waiting for your referral to podiatry … it’s been three weeks… all you do is ignore me … I want action NOW.”

The doctor’s nurse emailed back on April 3: “Your PCP will not be available until next week … has not had the chance to review the attachment of the ankle. If the condition worsens, please go to the ER.”

It is clear the doctor did not look at the picture of the infection. Jackson thinks if she had, she would have realized how serious the situation was. The infection spread so badly, Jackson went to the Emergency Department at the VA Hospital in Hampton.

“I’m putting a bandage on it. I’m doing everything I need to do. I don’t realize how bad it is until I take a facey, and look at it,” Jackson said. “The original picture would be enough to send chills down your back. This could cost me my leg, if the infection has gotten into the bone.”

10 On Your Side wanted to talk with Jackson’s doctor to get an explanation on what happened, so we went to her outpatient clinic. The Administrative Officer said, “I can not give you any information. You must go through our public affairs officer.”

WAVY.com called Rachel Dalton, who is  Executive Officer to the Chief of Staff/Public Affairs Officer at the Hampton  VA Medical Center. She emailed us:

As soon as we learn that a patient is dissatisfied with their care, we perform a detailed clinical review in order to determine whether or not appropriate care was provided. There are times when corrective action is required; however, often times, we find that the root of the dissatisfaction is unclear or inadequate communication between the patient and their VA team. We understand how vital clear communication is. We are constantly working to improve this vital link and welcome any feedback that will help us in this effort. Comments can be sent to the following email address: VHAHAMTelltheDirector@va.gov. Each email will be reviewed and responded to by Medical Center Leadership.

To be clear, there is no evidence that connects Donald Jackson to the bigger VA scandal over wait times. However, following our investigation, Jackson tells us he got a call from his doctor and has an appointment Thursday at 3 p.m.

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