The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 28, 2013

Questions staff levels at Illiana Health Care System


DANVILLE — I am a veteran of the Marine Corps living in Liberty House at the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville.

There also is a second house called Freedom House here on the old golf course. The two are called the Green Houses.

Each of the houses can hold 10 veterans. I have lived here for over a year now. We residents just found out that all the registered nurses who provide our care are being involuntarily removed from our houses. This means we will not have immediate access to registered nurses.

The nurses will be located on the other side of the campus. If we get sick, we will have to wait for them to get here. No other veterans at this facility have to wait for their nurses to come help them. If they need something, their nurses are right there on their ward to provide immediate care. How is this fair?

Nobody asked any of us for our input at all. The bottom line is continuity of care will be lost. In addition to that, it places all of us in a high-risk situation. If we need immediate care for illnesses, they will not be here. If I am in pain and need pain medication, I will have to wait for them to drive over before I can get it. That means I have to lie here in pain waiting.

I also suffer from breathing difficulty and sometimes need help with that. Now I will have to suffer from shortness of breath longer while I wait for their help.

Another safety risk that already exists is there is not enough staff on all shifts to rescue us if an emergency arises such as a fire or weather emergency such as a tornado.

I am aware that there is a requirement of one staff member for every four of us for these evacuations, and on most night shifts, there is only one staff for every 10 of us in a given house. At least with our RN’s here, there is more help available if something awful happens.

I was a member of the Marine Corps for nine years and am 100 percent service connected for combat-related injuries. I am also retired from the Department of Defense and the VA after 35 years of exemplary service.

In the military, we were ready to protect at all times and now I am not being protected by the government I served. We all deserve the same access to our nurses and the same level of care that all the other veterans who live at the Danville VA receive.

Ronald E. Harriman, SSG USMC

Retired, resides in Danville.