Please note, this letter is both an appeal and a summary of everything that has happened at the Carl T. Hayden VAHCS since March 2020. This is probably the longest letter I have ever written.
Dr. B. Vela MD
Interim Chief of Staff
Phoenix VA Healthcare System
650 East Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Director Michael W. Fisher
VA Desert Pacific Healthcare Network
300 Oceangate, Suite 700
Long Beach, CA 90802
02 January 2021
Dr. M. Dave Salisbury PhD.
10002 N 7th St
Phoenix, AZ 85020
RE: Appeal of DBC Decision 11 December 2020.
Greetings Dr. Vela and Mr. Fisher,
On 02 Jan 2021, I signed for and received a certified letter postmarked 21 Dec 2020, dated 11 Dec 2020. Why all the delays? If I have 30-days from the day the letter is dated, why did the VA steal 10-days? The letter originates from the Disruptive Behavior Committee (DBC), which claims I have been warned of causing disruptive behavior at the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ. The letter received claims,
“On December 09, 2020, a member of our DBC contacted you by phone to discuss these concerns, provide behavioral expectations while in the medical center, and to remind you of the importance of maintaining a safe and respectful environment of care.”
I received a call from Nurse Crawford on or about 09 December 2020, who listened politely to the problem and said nothing else. The conversation was useless as the nurse relayed nothing but platitudes, agreed that I have the right to be safe in the medical center, and then harped about the COVID Mask policy. No intention, no motivation to aid or support, no opportunities for progress, no ability to come to a solution, nothing. I got off this call, and my wife, who has heard my entire side, asked, “Did that call solve anything?” No, that call solved nothing, provided no information, and wasted everyone’s time!
11 December 2020, Dr. Moore, the chair of the DBC Committee, calls me complaining of my disruptive behavior, declaring that while I have a right to be safe in the hospital, I must wear a mask, and now suffer under the onerous DBC committee rules to enter and exit the VA Hospital because of a pattern of non-compliance witnessed as behavioral issues. Dr. Moore indicated that I have the right to be safe. I have the expectation of being treated professionally, but since there is a pattern of “disruptive behavior,” my rights have been canceled, and I now must obey DBC requirements.
In plain speak, I am in the wrong for insisting that I cannot safely wear a COVID mask, and the policy problems and leadership issues at the VA are all my fault. I am being blamed for the VA Police being tyrannical and obscene in their actions of discrimination against those who cannot physically and safely wear a mask. The VA Hospital in Phoenix is closed to me until I comply with wearing a mask, which I cannot physically and safely perform.
Using Dr. Moore’s and Nurse Crawford’s logic and the Phoenix VA Health Care System (Paragraph 1 of the DBC Letter), let us see if I understand the problem because, frankly, I have no clue.
“The Phoenix VA Health Care System [VAHCS] is committed to providing an environment where everyone feels safe and respected. Our goal is to provide exceptional care that improves the health and well-being of our veterans. We also work diligently to maintain a safe environment for staff, veterans, and visitors to our facility.”
If I, as the patient, have the ability and right to be safe from harassment, HIPAA violations, and respect, but cannot physically wear a mask, I have no right to service at the VA Hospital. But, if somehow, I can wear a mask, I am not harassed, denigrated, derided, and injured by federal employees; however, my HIPAA and legal rights under EMTALA remain in doubt. Do I interpret this statement correctly from the point of view of the employees of the VAHCS? Because this is precisely the problem, I cannot wear a mask safely or without causing additional harm to myself, and my first obligation in the PACT team is to protect what health I still have.
I cannot physically wear a mask. I have a letter from my VAHCS Primary Care Provider for my employer to establish workplace accommodations where I do not have to wear a mask. Yet, this same letter is insufficient for the VA Employees who keep refusing me access to the ED, refusing to honor appointments, refusing to schedule appointments, causing a scene by crying to the VA Police when I do not immediately comply with their mandates to wear a mask, and all because I cannot safely wear a mask.
30 June 2020, I was refused service at the VA ER because I cannot wear a mask due to breathing issues. Before entering, in the courtyard where the COVID screening was occurring outside in Phoenix Summer night heat, I was informed that I could hold the mask in front of my face, and this is an acceptable workaround or wear a face shield. There were no face shields available at this person’s station, and I was informed to ask inside at the ER check-in for a face shield. Upon entering the ER to be checked in, the office staff refused the information provided at the entrance and said, “If the mask is not worn, we are refusing service.” I have had shortness of breath, not lung-related, for many years now, which continues to worsen, and I cannot safely wear a mask. This information is noted in my VA Medical records. I have been through several rounds of breathing tests, which confirm my lungs work great. Still, I remain short of breath, dizzy, unstable when walking. When wearing any mask, my breathing problems increase and include lightheadedness and nausea, until eventually, my vision grays, and I pass out. The original problem was diagnosed at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center (2010/2011).
I stumbled to my vehicle, at which point I am shortly surrounded by VA Police Officers who claim they were called because a patient was disruptive in the ER. I was not disruptive in the ER. When I saw the intransigence of the ER Staff and was refused service, I walked out! No screaming, no swearing, no throwing furniture, no issues. I did not have sufficient breath to walk, let alone commit the atrocities I was accused of, and yet, this is supposedly the first incident in a “pattern of disruptive behavior.” It appears to me the VA Employees breaking the law (EMTALA) needed a reason, so they created a handy excuse and blamed the patient!
08 July 2020, I walked into the VA through the south entrance, not wearing a mask, and those performing the COVID check did not offer a mask, offer a face shield, or say anything. I walked to the ER; the admitting person did not mention my need for a mask, nor did they ask why I was not wearing a mask; I was checked in to be seen in the ER. Shortly, I was triaged, and the triage nurse did not say anything about a mask. I sat in the ER for 3-hours, and none of the medical staff, hospital staff, employees, or Federal Officers walking past ever mention the need for a mask. I sat away from other people to avoid having any problems.
At the 3-hour mark, I told the ER staff I must get food, and I walked to the Patriot Store feeling sick because of diabetes, pain, and nerve issues, needing food. On my way, an employee whines about me not wearing a mask, and I ignore this person as my medical information is private, and I should not have to explain to every nosy-nelly about why I am not wearing a mask. I complete my purchases and suddenly, the VA Police, who were called by the unknown VA Employee, are there insisting I need to wear a mask. The nosy employee stood around, crowing about how he was available if the police needed more information. For the first of at least 40-times, I explain that I cannot physically wear a mask to protect my health and safety. No swearing, no disruptive behavior, I cannot wear a mask, and I was on my way back to the ER to wait to be seen.
I am met in the ER by Officer LT. Hicks and a plainclothes officer claiming to be a LT. At which point, I begin again to explain that I cannot wear a mask. I was not causing a scene before this; I was not causing a scene after this; however, when 8-10 VA Police Officers surround a person, a scene is created, and it is not the patient’s fault that a disruptive scene has commenced. I was not screaming; I was not swearing; I was not disruptive as this 40+ minute harassment began. In the end, I will admit fully, my cherub-like demeanor had evaporated, and swearing did occur. When you spend 40+ minutes saying the same thing over and over to no effect, my aggravation level went up. I contend the scene was started, provoked, antagonized, aggravated, irritated, and exasperated by the Federal Police Officers who more than once accused me of “Blowing rainbows up their butts,” lying about my breathing problems, and riling the situation. The officers accused me of lying about my medical records, medical problems, and reasons for not wearing a mask. Let me repeat when this scene began with LT. Hicks, I was told I needed to either wear a mask or a face shield. Nobody in the ER had a face shield, and when I was handed a face shield and put the face shield on, the officers continued to harass, torment, and rile the situation. I complied, they changed the “policy,” and I got arrested and cited.
I do not have the breath to be hostile! Because of the nerve issues I have and diabetes still needing food, I do not have the strength to be disruptive. I do not have the breath to be hollering and screaming! I do fully admit that the tinnitus I suffer from has me speaking louder than many other people, especially as my breathing worsens. I gasp out words and do not care about polite volume, and I need to be left alone during these episodes to catch my breath and calm the nerves. But this incident on 08 July is the epitome of VA Police Officers aggravating a problem when they could have simply left well enough alone as I was NOT breaking any rules, policies, or committing a crime on Federal Property. If a policy is not written down, it is not a policy, and it is not enforceable. Had the VA Officers ended the scene when I put the face shield on, there would not have been another problem, and I would have been seen in the ER for my medical issues.
15 October 2020, I reported to the Federal Courthouse without a mask and had my fines adjudicated from the 08 Jul incident. I paid $80 for “disorderly conduct” when I wasn’t disorderly, I paid $10.00 in parking fees. The person deciding my case said, “If I have trouble entering the building in the future, I need to ask the volunteers doing the COVID screening to call their supervisor, who will then shepherd me around the VA.” I was assured three times that there is a procedure to deliver healthcare services to the veterans who cannot physically wear a mask. The person handling my case claimed they would take care of the other ticket received from the 08 July incident and introduced themselves as a Lieutenant of the VA Police Force.
21 October 2020, I arrive at the south entrance to the Phoenix VA from the parking garage. I am confronted by a hysterical employee, claiming they were a supervisor, demanding I wear a mask at the COVID screening desk. I followed the instructions from 15 October and asked for a supervisor. The employee then requires I wait “outside the VA Hospital for privacy reasons.” When I asked why, and for specifics, the employee becomes more hysterical, calls the VA Police instead of answering questions, and erroneously claims I am causing a disturbance. The supervisor arrives, negates what was told me on the 15th of October, and claims that wearing masks is a policy, then demands that mask-wearing is not a policy but a directive. When I asked for a copy of the policy, directive, guideline, etc., I was pointed to a sign. I asked for the supervisor’s supervisor, called this person for assistance, and the VA Police interrupt my call and demand I finish my business off VA Property and then shadow me off VA Property, meaning I cannot return for 24-hours. I had around 10-VA Police Officers attempting to intimidate me, again, because I asked questions and insisted upon logical answers that the VA employees refused to deliver. No swearing, no screaming, no disruptive behavior of any kind, and I was outside the VA Hospital the whole time. The traffic and witnesses were displaced for the VA Police Officers, not because of me.
The VA Police do not have a copy of the mask policy, directive, guideline, etc., to pass out to people who ask for one. The supervisor does not have a copy or document with the mask policy clearly spelled out, except to point to a sign demanding obeisance. Yet, the person needing VA medical or other assistance is expected to blindly follow an unwritten “policy” that continues to shift from draconian to obscene and back again on the bureaucrat executing policy’s whims. This is immoral, unethical, and illegal, plus it makes the VA the laughingstock of every other hospital and care facility.
While I was able to speak to the supervisor’s supervisor, Jennifer Russoniello, and discuss the most recent incident and conduct some of the business I went to the VA Hospital for; I remain not pleased. The failure to access the VA to obtain the medication needed is directly contributory to my ER visit on the 28th of October. The continued confusion at the VA sees patients being refused service if they cannot wear a mask, at the expense of the patient’s health. It is important to note that the director possesses statutory authority to accommodate Washington D.C.’s policies for the local hospitals’ operation and patient safety. Yet, the director continues to fail to execute leadership, demonstrate a concern for patient safety, or even clarify operational guidelines, policies, procedures, or work standards by writing them down and training the staff on how to enforce policy properly and legally.
Important to note, Jennifer Russoniello affirmed what the supervisor claimed, there is no written policy regarding COVD masking at the Carl T. Hayden VAHCS. A memo was received directing the mask “policy.” She further elaborated that because the COVID situation changes dramatically from day-to-day, and the CDC mandates change from hour-to-hour, the Carl T. Hayden Hospital Leadership had tasked her to help draft an acceptable policy that would benefit all veterans. She then asked if she could use my story as support for preparing a cohesive policy, to which I agreed.
When Jennifer and I finished our conversation at the Wendy’s across the street from the Phoenix VAHCS, it was agreed that if I held a mask close to my face, it would be acceptable, and I could be seen at the Phoenix VAHCS. I was told to keep the mask near my face anytime I was within 6’ of other people, and I could drop the mask when not talking or interacting with people.
28 October 2020, I wake up in a crisis, I have to get medication that has not arrived, and my body is in trouble. Using the information from Jennifer Russoniello, my wife called the Phoenix VAHCS to alert Jennifer, and I was headed to the hospital ER. Jennifer called me back, and I was unable to speak to her due to my nerve condition. I arrived at the VA, held my mask to my face, went to the ER, and was treated without a problem. No police harassment, no issues, nothing.
04 and 07 December 2020, I receive two text messages from the VA regarding my upcoming appointment. I called the Radiology Department at the Phoenix VA specifically because I cannot physically wear a mask and wanted to make sure that I had waited four months to obtain this appointment and would not have any difficulties completing it. The VA previously has refused service by providers because I cannot physically wear a mask; canceled only after I had traveled to the VA, waited in the waiting room, only to be told by the provider to go home or wear a mask. Thus, I wanted to ensure this would not be the case with this MRI.
After five phone transfers, I finally spoke to Scott, who identified himself as the Radiology Supervisor. I explained my predicament, explained who he could call to discuss the problem, and called him a second time to provide the name of the person I have been working with a Jennifer Russoniello, along with her extension. Later that afternoon, Jennifer Russoniello returned my call and assured me all was in order. The workaround we worked out was for me to hold a mask in front of my mouth and nose. That way, the mask is not causing breathing difficulties, and I am then in compliance with the mask mandates. This arrangement had worked previously during an Emergency Room (28 October 2020) visit; thus, I kept my appointment.
For the MRI, I was ordered no food or drink 4-6 hours before the appointment. Two-hours was the scheduled time to be on the MRI table. I planned my day, including my medications, food, and drink, around returning home quickly and relaxing. Because history has proved that an MRI leaves me weak, hurt, and highly nerve sensitive, along with the usual sore muscles and other issues.
I arrived for my appointment, cleared the useless “COVID Screening” at the south entrance to the Phoenix VA, and proceed to Radiology. At Radiology, I meet a supervisor (Paul?) who was to escort me around the hospital to ensure I did not get hassled by the VA Police, per Jennifer Russoniello. I checked into Radiology. When my name is called, I am met at the traffic control door by Scott, the Radiology supervisor, and an MRI Technician. Scott refuses to allow me entrance because I am not physically wearing my mask. I explain I cannot physically wear a mask; I walk with a cane, so one hand is full, and the other was full of cellphone, MRI paperwork, glasses, and floppy cloth mask. I held the mask up to my face and claimed this is the best I can do to follow the “COVID Policy.” Then asked if the MRI appointment was still on or not, repeated 5-different times. Scott visibly has confusion written all over his face and cannot or will not decide. No swearing, no disruptive behavior, no loud talking, and still the supervisor who had already spoken to Jennifer Russoniello about my mask problems is refusing service at the VA because of the mask mandate. I am doing nothing wrong, nothing illegal, and nothing that could be classified as disruptive. That other patients laugh as they observe Scott’s unprofessional behavior is not my problem; I did not laugh, I did not swear, I did not raise my voice, and did not cause a problem. I simply stated my mask issue and asked if the MRI was going to occur.
After the sixth question regarding the MRI being canceled or not, the MRI tech turns slightly to Scott and says, “Why don’t we just do the MRI?” At which point, Scott clears the door, and the process of changing clothes, answering pre-MRI questions and waiting for a room to open begins. I walk to the MRI room without a mask, without problems, and without further questions about my mask-less face. I suffer through the MRI. After the MRI, I am told that “To get back to the dressing room, you have to be masked,” and I am offered a washcloth to hold close to my face. I follow this request to the best of my ability while walking/staggering down an empty hallway, physically weak and exhausted from the MRI, the pain, the exertion, and the lack of food.
My trip to the dressing room is vital for two reasons: 1) I kept losing my leg strength, which is normal after MRI’s but coupled with the lack of food, and I am in trouble if I cannot get food soon. 2) Nothing else is said about my not wearing a mask. I exit the dressing room, walk out through the traffic control door, and spot two VA Police Officers looking like they are involved in a long discussion with Peter, the supervisor dispatched from Jennifer Russoniello, to help me navigate the bureaucrats at the Phoenix VA.
I walk out, headed for the elevator, and the two VA Police Officers start calling my name. I intend to go home! Yet, the VA Police are delaying this because I cannot physically wear a mask. Officer Interpreter places himself directly into my path, shouting about my need to wear a mask; when I politely try to sidestep him, he pushes back, physically pushing me backward. The second officer is a Sgt. I think his name tag read “HUFF,” I am not sure, but calling him Sgt. Huff is acceptable, places himself beside Officer Interpreter, blocking my immediate path to the elevators. Please note, I do not have the breath to be disruptive, scream, holler, rant, rave, or cause a scene. I physically do not have the strength to argue or to carry on. I have to get food immediately, or I will be unable to drive. I attempt to explain all this to the VA Police Officers. Whose only reply is delivered in raised voices with great hostility, “We are not here to debate you,” “We are NOT here to discuss this with you; put a mask on!” and, “If you do not put a mask on immediately, we will arrest you on a felony.” When I asked for the specific felony the officers are accusing me of, they redirect the conversation because they know they are on shaky and illegitimate legal grounds.
For the next 10-minutes or so, these two officers will yell, threaten, cajole, attempt to intimidate, and eventually will choose to place me in handcuffs, threatening me with felonious charges unspecified. When Officer Interpreter finally decided to act and arrest me, he ordered me to turn around. Not being able to turn around and knowing that Sgt. Huff was already behind me, I would not move. I had previously almost collapsed during these officer’s tirades, more than once, and any movement at this point would be hazardous to my remaining upright and safe; my legs are shaking and weak already from the MRI. But Officer Interpreter refuses to listen to any explanation on my part. At this point, without knowing the extent of my injuries, Officer Interpreter places two hands upon me, thumbs in the armpits, mid-top of the biceps, and attempts to spin me to the left, towards the wall, in a standard police maneuver seen on every police show Hollywood produces. After which, my legs collapsed! My Thoracic Spine turned to the left, while my Lumbar and Cervical Spine remained stationary. I hit the floor hard, cutting two fingers in four places, and I begin bleeding like mad! I also scratched my right arm in two places while falling. I did not realize until showering the next day; neither scratch is deep enough to need medical attention, but they are all apparent injuries sustained when violently attacked by Officer Interpreter.
Officer Interpreter then tells me, “You collapsed on purpose; your injuries are faked.” The supposedly superior officer, Sgt. Huff quickly picks up this mantra. This attack (07 Dec 2020) has left me with increased pain in both knees, cramps in the L-Spine, a feeling of disconnection between my T- and L-Spines, and my cut fingers just keep bleeding. Sitting and standing are more painful, and I have less stamina for sitting, standing, walking, and more problems breathing. Every time the officers handled me and collapsed my legs, shots of pain went through my body; I can only guess I screamed out. That generally happens when someone who is already suffering from chronic pain suffers more pain; check my medical records, and you see, I typically live in the land of 6 and 7 pain levels. No swearing: I worked very hard during this incident to maintain a sense of professionalism even in my weakened state. I fully admit my cherub-like demeanor evaporated when I got pushed, but I worked hard to control my tongue.
Collapsing my legs on 07 December 2020, like every time the VA Police have manhandled me, ignites a pain and nerve storm inside my body. I jerk, spasm, twitch, stutter, eventually lose my ability to speak, and involuntary movements explode out my arms, legs, neck/head, hands, and feet. My breathing problems intensify. I try explaining this to the officers every time, and every time I am insulted, denigrated, accused of faking the injuries, and causing a disturbance to cover their ineptitude and unprofessionalism. In Holding Cell 1, as Officer Huff is removing one handcuff, my arm spasms involuntarily, and he complains I am trying to hit him. False accusations abound in this sordid saga!
My safety is placed at risk when I wear a mask, yet the VA is the only medical facility in the Phoenix Metro area with a problem of me not wearing a mask. I have had MRIs, consultations, a gall bladder surgery, which involved a full day in the ER, then two days in hospital, all without a mask. Thus, even though the first, and allegedly, most important SAIL Matrix is Safety, as in the patient’s safety, I am discriminated against because I cannot wear a mask. The Phoenix VA leaders cannot sufficiently establish policies and guidelines to protect my safety.
Once standing, with officer assistance, I was placed in a wheelchair where I struggled to breathe. Sitting in a wheelchair is hard for me because I cannot straighten out enough to breathe fully. My fight or flight response goes haywire when the nerve issues begin and does not conclude for days afterward. Yet, on top of all my other cautionary statements about handling me and not inflicting more pain, the officers insisted I sit in a wheelchair. Worse, the officers felt it was needed to handcuff me with my arms behind my back while sitting in a wheelchair. My back is in immense pain every time it is touched. Yet, the officers continued to think it was acceptable to handcuff me, behind my back, where the cuffs, the bracelets around my wrists, are digging into my spine. Every time we hit a bump, more pain shoots through my already injured and highly nerve sensitive body! Sitting in a wheelchair, with my hands cuffed behind my back forces me to sit hunched over, making breathing even more difficult. Where are my rights to patient safety in the VA Hospital?
The Federal VA Police officers repeatedly informed me, “You are doing this intentionally,” “Stop making a scene, you are not in that much pain,” and “You cannot be injured that badly.” Let me be clear; the officers started this confrontation by not allowing me to go home! My appointment was at the end of the day, so there were significantly empty hallways when I was scheduled to leave, meaning that I would not be disturbing people by not wearing a mask. Then they compounded their errors by directly laying their hands upon me. These two officers, and the officers from July, both felt they could violently lay hands upon a patient who is not being violent, are not acting irrationally, and this is WRONG! If the patient is not acting in a manner that causes harm or injury to themselves, other patients, threatening the VA Police Officers, or damaging the VA physical facility, the policy should be HANDS OFF!
10 December 2020, south entrance to the VA Hospital, I approach the VA to file a complaint about the treatment received on the 08th of December and visit the ER. I am stopped by the same overzealous supervisor from 21 October 2020, at the COVID screening station between the two entrance/exit doors. I explain I cannot wear a mask when asked to wear a mask, and before the COVID screener can reply, the supervisor demands I stand out of the way, and he acts in a hostile and combative manner. I followed directions; I stand out of the way while he goes further away to obtain instructions about me; supposedly, I was on some warning list. With more apparent and palpable glee and hostility, the supervisor returns, informing me Jennifer Russoniello is coming to speak to me; she never arrived. At this point, the supervisor demands I leave the hospital entrance, claiming I am blocking the path of traffic; yet, it is raining outside, I am out of traffic, and not causing a scene. When the supervisor becomes more agitated and hostile, he calls the VA Police to have me removed. The VA Police officer signals to leave me alone while I wait and the supervisor returns to his post. Not 2-minutes later, another officer arrives, and the supervisor tells the arriving officer I am disturbing traffic and not following his commands.
Yet, except for my inability to wear a mask and stand in the rain, I have followed his commands; I am not disrupting the inbound or outbound traffic, I am standing out of the way, and I am silently waiting. Soon a LT arrives, I didn’t get his name. I got his attitude, antagonism, malevolence, and malice, but never witnessed his professionalism or ability to listen. The LT, along with a SGT. and several other officers, proceed to block the doors so nobody can get in or out of the VA and proceed to blame me for blocking traffic. I was not blocking traffic; I was not causing a scene. I was not disturbing anyone. The VA Police officers did all these things.
I explain why I am there. I explain I cannot wear a mask; I explain without swearing, screaming, or disrupting anyone I am waiting and trying to get to the ER. The LT and the SGT then decide it is time to arrest me. They grab my arms and jerk at the wrists to get my arms behind my back. My wrists are still visibly bruised from the 07th of December incident, and I scream in pain. To which they claim I am “faking my injuries,” then declaring, “If my wrists were really injured, there would be bandages on them,” among other derogatory comments. My nerves kick-off and my pain jumps to 15, as I am manhandled into a wheelchair, from which I cannot breathe properly, and then taken through the rain to Holding Cell 2. Is this clear? I am bodily removed from the VA, injured, arrested, and all this after spending two days flat on my back due to pain from the 07th of December arrest and injuries. Under EMTALA, the Federal Emergency medicine law, this is illegal. As a patient with rights, whose primary job is to look after my safety, I am left amazed at the treatment I keep receiving.
Every curb hit, every bump hit, every single expansion line in the sidewalks hit, my pain spikes, and I holler out in agony. Yet, every time I mention this, I am told to shut up, stop acting, stop faking, and that I deserve the trouble I am receiving at the VA Police’s hands. But the irony of the entire saga of illegal actions, immoral treatment, and unethical behavior from the VA Police and immature VA Federal employees is encapsulated in being reported to the DBC for behavioral issues.
I have not been disruptive. I have not exhibited behavioral problems worthy of this charge and action by the VA Police or the DBC. I have in no way broken any law or refused any reasonable demand. I have been seen at the Phoenix VA historically two other times, and never a problem. I have been seen at various other VA facilities across the continental United States and never had a problem with the Federal VA Police, anywhere. The VA at a VA Hospital has employed me, and I never had a problem with the VA Police. Since March 2020, the third time I am a patient with the Phoenix VAHCS, I have nothing but problems as professionalism has shrunk and the bureaucratism has increased exponentially!
Ask yourself this, if you are in pain, and you go to a hospital ER for services and are refused service, are you a happy person? If you are in constant pain, and someone pushes you, violently spins you, and causes your pain to elevate, do you cry out in pain? If so, according to the DBC and the VA Police’s pretzel logic, you disrupted the hospital and caused a disturbance. If you explain something 50+ times to a person, are you still a pleasant and friendly person to be around? I have explained hundreds of times why I cannot wear a mask, where to find this data in my medical records, and been accused of lying, “blowing rainbows up a person’s butt,” and had other derogatory and insulting remarks made about me and to me.
Tell me, if you hear your private medical diagnoses bandied about as a joke, do you take offense? Do you become upset when your safety is threatened and your personal space is violated for no cause? If so, then you cannot allow this atrocious decision by the DBC to stand. Nor should you allow another minute to pass before ending the policies creating the problems and safety issues. Three times I have needed emergency care at the Carl T. Hayden VAHCS since my return in March 2020 and been refused. Refusing emergency care at an emergency room receiving federal funds to operate is against the LAW (EMTALA); yet, the VAHCS in Phoenix is somehow exempt? Twice, I have had additional injuries heaped upon the pain I am already suffering, and thrice I have been cited for being disorderly when the VA Police Officers were the ones causing the scene, disrupting traffic, and antagonizing situations.
10 December 2020, in Holding Cell 2, in front of at least eight other officers, Major Kratz barges into the holding cell, screaming, hollering, and shaking his sausage-like fingers in my face. Making demands and acting irrationally, yet I face DBC consequences, which does not make sense. While trying to leave the VA, sitting in my POV, the LT who started all the trouble on the 10th of December, places his hands upon my vehicle, leans against my door, and refuses to allow me to leave until he has finished insulting, denigrating, and making stupid accusations!
I fully admit, my cherub-like demeanor with the VA Police is gone, and I refuse to replace the cherub-like demeanor while I remain criticized, insulted, dismissed, injured, and falsely accused! I have documented my treatment and my proactive approach to correcting the issues experienced very closely because the VA continues to claim I am “non-compliant” and claiming that my behavioral problems are causing disturbances in the hospital. According to the officers, on the 10th of December 2020, I am “deserving the injuries I receive because of my rebelliousness in not conforming to wear a mask.” Even after I have explained, I cannot physically or safely wear a mask.
30 December 2020, a person declaring themselves the assistant deputy director of the VA Police at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, called me. When asked three times, directly, “Why are you calling me,” I received three different ambiguous answers that meant nothing and a redirection of the conversation. Then the caller told me some “facts,” I stated the situation as declared above. To which I was told, “Your evidence is not applicable because it is too old.” Yet, he went on to claim his officer’s record of events was correct and factual, and the date did not matter.
But, like the Home Shopping Network claims, “Oh Wait, there’s more.” The caller told me, “your non-compliance is what is causing the issues.” Not the fact that zealot bureaucrats are enforcing a policy that endangers the patients. Not that my safety concerns have any bearing on the issues or why I keep getting harassed by multiple VA Federal Police Officers who refuse to listen to the patient. Not that I have legitimate physical problems with wearing a mask. He only informed me that I am not compliant, which is my problem, and the sole reason the VA Police Officers keep injuring me.
But “Oh wait, there’s more.” After declaring I am non-compliant, the caller refused to listen to my rebuttal of why I am compliant. Interrupting me constantly, and then claiming that I am “Riled up” and “not being professional” when conversing with him, an intransigent and openly hostile caller. The caller then dared to declare that “Patients do not tell the hospital what they will and will not do.” Seriously!?!?! I have legitimate safety and health issues that have been recorded on the VA Medical records, and this caller duplicates what his officers did on the 10th of December when they declared they were smarter than my doctor and could know when someone was faking an injury or not!
But “Oh, wait, there’s more.” In July 2020, I heard jokes and disparaging comments about me and my medical file while sitting in the holding cell. On the 10th of December, more disparaging remarks were made that included details that can only be known had the VA Police looked at my medical diagnoses, mental health records, and other medical data. Having non-medical personnel know this confidential data is a HIPAA violation, clear and straightforward. The letter 644/00 dated the 13th of October 2020 from Dr. A. Smith, the Medical Center Director, claimed that the VA Police needed this data to do their jobs effectively. But, the caller had the nerve to declare, “I am making this up, these allegations have no bearing on the 07th of December event, and I need to stop lying about my injuries and the verbal abuse of the arresting officers.” Which is it, HIPAA claims that these officers are in direct violation of their duties when they know my private medical details and diagnoses. The VAMC director claims it is legal. The caller claimed they have never had this data. I smell bureaucrats covering themselves, and it stinks!
I have now sat in Holding Cell 1 twice and Holding Cell 2 once at the Carl T. Hayden VA Police Offices. I can tell you from my experience, the majority of these Federal Police Officers are unprofessional, unprincipled, unbefitting, unbecoming, and replete with the most egregious manners it has ever been my displeasure to encounter. The Department of Motor Vehicles is more professional and dedicated than most of the Carl T. Hayden’s VA Police Officers – having this “leader” of VA Police Operations tell me I am lying is enough to boil my blood!
But “Oh, wait, there’s more.” The caller then dared to accuse me of being hostile, not listening and refusing to comply. How can I comply when you never told me why you were calling? Why should I be anything but irate and wary when I have come to expect treatment that should shame any professional? I listened very carefully to the bloviations and blather of this bureaucrat, which is why, at this point, I disconnected the call.
The call lasted 8 minutes, and was full of bureaucratic nonsense, and left me out of breath, gasping for air, and vehement to the Nth degree, and out of my mind with umbrage and indignation! Why did the Assistant Deputy Director of VA Police call me? What is his job? Since his job does not include setting hospital policy at the VA, will this incident be referred to a policymaker at some future date, or do I have to be paralyzed first by a zealous VA Police Officer jerking my spine and cutting my spinal cord? If patients cannot inform a police officer that what they are doing is causing injury, then the VA Police Officer is wrong! If a patient who is not causing trouble, is continuously harassed, threatened, accused of lying, and injured, and then can be placed on DBC policies for unspecified behavioral issues, based solely upon the cowardly, unscrupulous, and disreputable conduct of the VA Police and the inadequate policies and directives of the hospital leadership, then the entire organizational leadership needs to be replaced, forthwith!
I fully admit, I got frustrated and swore! I fully admit when my pain levels went up, and I got hit, spun, collapsed, and more, I screamed in agony. I have repeatedly tried to be proactive and avoid being in a position where the VA Police are concerned. Still, I cannot safely and physically wear a mask, and this is NOT a crime worthy of all the bureaucratic lunacy and foolishness I keep suffering. I have not caused a single-issue worthy of VA Police intervention, EVER!
I have been a victim of overzealous, hostile, inept, and incompetent supervisors who become ludibrium verius malum when someone asks them a question. I have been a victim of unprincipled, unscrupulous, disreputable professionals gifted with a badge or authority above their competence who are policy tools off the VAHCS, whose policy is poorly dictated and inappropriately applied. I have been illegally treated and mistreated to the pleasure of the ludibrium verius malum functionaries. Thus, I refute the charges laid against my good name and character. I refuse to be labeled as a “behavioral problem” when I have done nothing wrong!
In no uncertain terms, the decision from the DBC should be immediately rejected, and the entire record struck of all accusations. Immediately restitution needs to be made for causing me injuries by the hands of emotionally impassioned ludibrium verius malum tools! I have committed no crime!
I have done nothing worthy of any of the treatment I have received since March 2020 at the hands of the VA. I deserve justice, not accusations of behavioral misconduct. I deserve justice for the misconduct, malfeasance, impropriety, delinquency, crime, and mistreatment I have suffered. I deserve answers, and I intend to keep complaining until my rights are restored and my good name cleansed and scoured of the tyrannical, unjust, and oppressive actions of these disastrous federal employees. There is NO excuse for what I have suffered!
As a professional organizational psychologist, I place my integrity and honor on what I have reported, observed, experienced, witnessed, heard. I fully and unequivocally attest that the majority of the Federal Police Officers in the Carl T. Hayden VA Police Force need immediate retraining, except for those not fired for unprofessional behavior and misconduct! There is NO EXCUSE for Officer Interpreter on the 08th of December 2020 to have grabbed me, after physically pushing me, and try to spin me into a wall. There is no reason, at all, for a VA Police Lt. and a Sgt. to grab my wrists, bend my arms into positions they do not travel, aggravating the handcuff injuries from Monday, and then have the gall to tell me, “Well, how could I know you had painful wrists, you are not wearing a bandage.” I told them about my injures before they started grabbing, jerking, yanking, and hurting me. Then I get ordered to “Shut up; I was under arrest.” But I never had my Miranda Rights read. I complied on the 10th, I complied on the 8th, and I complied in July.
Let us be perfectly clear; hospital mandatory mask policies must have exceptions for patients who physically cannot wear a mask. Patients unable to wear masks include some patients on cancer drugs, some asthmatic patients, people with breathing problems, and much more. The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center policy is the biggest problem I face when obtaining treatment after the COVID Pandemic Declaration from Feb. 2020. I am certainly not alone in having breathing issues with the COVID Masking Policies, and with the zealotry the policies are being enforced. The VA has established an organizational design that requires a veterans business to be conducted face-to-face. Hence, the VA is a Ghost Town; patients are canceling their appointments, FOIA’s are not being submitted, and so much more because of the masking policies that endanger patient health and place patients at risk of further injury!
I repeat, only for emphasis; that the only medical offices, radiological departments, emergency rooms, and hospitals in the Phoenix, Arizona area where mask policies are causing discrimination and refusal of service is at the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Administration Health Care System, and this is 100% wrong! The Entire VA Leadership Team should be highly embarrassed and entirely held accountable!
Where is respect for me at the VA? Where is my patient safety? Where is my ability to conduct business in an atmosphere free of harassment, intimidation, and discrimination? If the Phoenix VAHCS desires atmospheres free of harassment, intimidation, and discrimination, they first must provide what they desire.
Dr. M. Dave Salisbury
Dual Service-Disabled Veteran
CC: Meyers & Telles Attorneys at Law
Senator Mark Kelly
Rep. Greg Stanton