Friday, September 09, 2011
Warning: Super Sunday Terror Training (The VA in 3D, Part 2)
9/8/11 – In my Labor Day report, Hospital Horror, I described an eight-hour series of assaults against me, a quadriplegic veteran, carried out by the staff of Houston’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center on January 29, 2011.
This is a continuation of my earlier report for Veterans Today and the VA Inspector General. It includes my account the alarming emergency training in Houston’s military district during the 2011 Super Bowl, of which I was a witness. As the NFL prepares for its new season, it’s high time to examine how its last one may have been the stage for a terror attack.
Speaking of the assaults on me, a source inside Respiratory Therapy would later call them “beyond bad” and “against all rules.” Unfortunately, my source is anonymous because she isn’t in charge, and justifiably fears retaliation by those who are. The Houston VA Hospital is dominated by the callous and tolerated by the clueless. After the violent crime, the criminal cover-up began.
Saturday, 1/29/11, 0930: At my urgent request, the shift supervisor, Nurse Shannon Johnson comes to my room. Although the last assault, witnessed by Nurse DQ, ended only fifteen minutes ago, Johnson refuses to call the VA Police or make a report. She tells me that she must make her rounds to check her other patients, but will return in an hour to take my statement. She doesn’t return, and I haven’t seen her since.
1500: Dr. Mosier, the head of Neurology, visits with his right-hand man, Dr. Charley. He says that he will provide me with the Internet, but that he must review and approve my news story. I refuse and the two leave. I never receive the Internet.
Monday, 1/31/11, 0900: Dr. Macklin, a hospital psychiatrist, comes to see me. It is the first of half a dozen post-assault evaluations of my sanity. She refuses to call the police, but she says that she will contact my patient advocate, who never comes.
Tuesday, 2/1/11: My trachea, traumatized by the attacks on the weekend, hemorrhages, and the oxygen content in my blood falls off the charts. I sink into oblivion until I hear a voice calling me back, and when I return I am looking up upon the determined face of seasoned Antonia Jodinskas, who has fought off death to revive me. Entranced, I am overwhelmed by love for her and believe that she is God. As my vision expands I see many white coats around me, and hear a serene humming. This must be heaven, and they must be its angels..
Suddenly I am fully conscious, and frightened. I don’t want Antonia to go, and she tells me she won’t. She has extracted over 200 milliliters, about a cup, of blood from my trachea and lungs, and says that she has never seen anything like it before. She also says, angrily, that she would like to find out who is responsible for this. In a hospital full of ruffians and rogues, she is my hero.
Friday, 2/4/11, 0815: Nurse Erin Hencey dismisses the nurses in my room. This is the first time I have seen her since her shift worked me over a week before, and I am anxious about being alone with her. Nevertheless, I have to smile at the irony of the situation: although my martial arts rank is still second degree black belt, my medical condition is quadriplegic, and I’m at her mercy.
I ask her to move my eye-gaze computer a bit so that I can speak more easily. She is irritated, and grumbles about me being a troublemaker while I struggle to write the simple instruction telling how to focus me and calibrate the computer: “Lower my bed.”
“We’ve found that it doesn’t work when we lower the bed,” she replies, “so I guess you mean ‘Lower my head.’”
The statement is meaningless except as an excuse for malice: She lowers the bed completely, breaking my tenuous contact with my computer, and leaves the room. Nevertheless, it is only indignity, and not injury, and I smile at my good luck.
Saturday, 2/5/11, 1800: Although a dozen different doctors have refused to report last week’s assaults, tonight I am very lucky. A resident physician happens to be on duty, and drops by my room in Ward 3D. A close relative of his has died of ALS and he is alarmed at my account. He reports it to the VA Police.
One of the two police officers who come to take my report has also had a close relative who died of ALS. The two take my report, apologize for the hospital, and predict that the Harris County district attorney will prosecute my attackers. In the seven months since then, the VA Police have failed to follow up, bolstering the claims of critics who say that they are hospital security guards, not a law enforcement agency.
Super Sunday, 2/6/11: An unannounced and unsettling series of fire drills takes place at the Houston VA hospital before and throughout the Super Bowl. The VA Police and Homeland Security participate in the four-hour exercise, which baffles the hospital staff, who say it is unprecedented.
In a career that included Army National Guard and Army Reserve tours, I have served eight years in the military units nearby the VA hospital, from a state combat arms battalion to a national exercise division, and I can only think of one good reason why authorities would schedule an emergency exercise during the Super Bowl: they were anticipating an emergency, perhaps a convenient catastrophe like the USS Maine. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps units within a quarter of a mile of the hospital would be ideal targets for terrorists who wanted to draw the nation into a new war, say, with Iran.
I recommend that those concerned with the dangers of another terror attack refer to the 5/1/01 ABC News story on Operation Northwoods, and the 2/2/06 Daily News story on unannounced high-level nuclear exercises in the Houston area.
Monday, 2/7/11, 1145: Ward 3D head nurse Donna Carter and her boss, hospital head nurse Donna Stultz, come to ask me about my statement to the police. They claim that they want to investigate and rectify the matter. I reply that I have spent more than a week trying to get them to report the assaults to the police, and that they can either read the police report or my upcoming article.
Tuesday, 2/8/11: I am discharged from the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, lucky to be alive. It’s a place where they break all the rules and bury their problems.
I made several requests to interview hospital administrators for this article, but none responded. Since the first article in this series, there have been repeated acts of retaliation against me. More to come …