Distraught patient calls 911 from OKC VA emergency room

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A VA patient said she was so distraught with pain that was going untreated, she called 911 from the emergency room.

Robin Harrison said she went to the VA for a routine appointment, but when she left, she started to feel debilitating stomach cramps.

"I literally doubled over and I fell on the ground, and I couldn’t get back up," Harrison said.

Her friend and some others helped wheel her back into the hospital in a wheelchair and her doctor sent her down to the ER.

"The triage nurse opened up the door, she took me immediately back in, asked me what was going on, I gave her all my symptoms," Harrison said. "I told her that I was in extreme pain, that it felt like I was having labor pains in my stomach."

Harrison was told to wait, and laid down on a bench, cringing in pain.

"I’m starting to cry and moan," Harrison said. "It’s like, I can’t help it. This hurts so bad."

She said after about two hours, she started going up to the registrar's desk asking to be seen sooner, her pain too much to bear. But, she said she was ignored.

"I said, 'What do I have to do to get back there?' I said, 'I can’t take this pain anymore,'" Harrison said.

Finally fed up, Harrison called 911.

"The patient is in VA’s ER?" the dispatcher is heard saying on the 911 call.

"Yeah," Harrison told the dispatcher. "I'm waiting, and I’ve been here for two hours in severe abdominal pain, and I can’t get back there to see anyone, and I can’t drive myself anywhere."

EMSA alerted the ER and a nurse finally brought Harrison to a triage room.

"Starts going, 'You can’t call 911 from here,' and I said, 'Yes I can.' 'That’s misuse of the 911 system,’ and I said, 'No, it’s not.' And he never once asks me why I’m crying, why I'm doubled over, why I'm there, nothing," Harrison said. "He just starts berating me."

After that, she said she went and sat down again, but left when she saw more patients brought back before her.

Hospital officials have a different story. They said there was only about an hour and 23 minutes between the time Harrison was admitted to the ER and the time she called 911.

"The triage nurse went out again just to make sure that something hadn’t suddenly changed," said emergency department nurse manager Courtney Myers, "and that’s where they had documented that she appeared to be sleeping. That’s not just a quick assessment."

Myers said the nurse did ask how she was after she called 911, but that she opted not to stay.

The VA medical center director, Wade Velosich, said she received the same care as everyone else.

"Everybody has their perceptions," Velosich said, "and we want to do the best to serve those who have served our country."

However, Harrison insists she was disrespected.

"I raised my right hand and swore allegiance to my country," Harrison said, "that I would honorably serve it, its people, and the president. I just want the same. I was promised that and that’s all I’m asking for."


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