Over the past several months, good news about military healthcare has been hard to find. That is particularly true here in Fayetteville, where not only the Fayetteville VA but also Womack Army Medical Center has come under harsh scrutiny for patient care and wellness.
That has left many in the community skeptical. I have friends who are literally afraid of getting sick because they don’t want to go to Womack. One of my friends thinks she has a gall bladder problem, but she won’t get it treated because she is afraid of being treated at the hospital.
We joke about it, but somewhere, deep down inside, there is a grain of truth in our jokes. So, let me share a personal story with you that may aleviate some fears.
Last Saturday was a good day. The sun was shining. My boy was playing baseball. It was the kind of Saturday you put in a memory book. We ate cheeseburgers for dinner and watched television as a family. For once, we all went to bed early. Sounds peaceful, right? Around 11 p.m., I was roused from sleep by terrible pain — ungodly pain — quickly followed by extreme gastric distress. I spent the majority of the night throwing up and alternately praying for death. Somewhere in the midst of that, I jumped on webmd and diagnosed myself with an appendicitis. Around 7 a.m., I told my husband we had to go to the hospital.
“Do you want me to just take you to Cape Fear?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “Take me to Womack.”
On the drive, which was extremely painful, thoughts of Womack’s woes ran through my head. But then all of the excellent care I have personally been given at the hospital quickly chased my doubts away. I may be the only person to say this, but I have never had less than excellent care at the hospital — getting to it may be frustrating — but once I’ve seen a doctor, I have been satisfied.
We got to the Emergency Department, which is under renovation, and made a circuitous route to the door. There are no signs telling you what to do and we were barked at by the man at the front desk to stand along the side wall. A customer service class could be in order. Once I was registered and triaged, I was taken directly to the back. The inital staff interaction was awesome. I was given meds to alleviate my nauseousnous and pain meds to take care of the pain. A care plan was quickly devised.
And then everything stopped. We were in the ER for eight hours. Part of the time was waiting on testing and I’m not sure what the other part was because no one was talking to us. I saw a friend who was working on another pod and got her to check on my status because the three nurses assigned to me were not communicating with me. At one point I told one of the orderlies I felt like they had forgotten me. And that’s the worst thing that happened to me while I was there.
I was moved to 2 North, where I was treated with great care and respect by the staff. They answered my every call and even did their best to make me not afraid. They were caring, dedicated healthcare providers. I have nothing but good to say about them and the care they provided me during the night and morning leading up to surgery and the night after surgery before my release.
My surgeon, Dr. Perkins, was a consummate professional who informed me at every turn where we were and what was going on. I had no fear knowing that she would be operating on me.
So here’s your good news story. I’m here. I’m writing this one week to the day I entered the hospital. Let’s be honest. Womack’s rates are better than most civilian hospitals. It is unfortunate that the hospital has been dragged under the microscope by the VA’s woes, thus making anything that happens there a big deal. So here’s the big deal, there are caring, professionals at work there every day. They will take care of you. Don’t be afraid.