23 February 2021: UPS delivered a letter package containing a single sheet of paper from Dr. Karen MacKichan MD, auto signed, and dated 09 February 2021. Declaring that the Phoenix VA is absolutely correct in behaving as petty tyrants and denying me medical care, illegally sharing and knowing my HIPAA information with VA Police Officers, breaking EMTALA, and treating me to injuries, all because I cannot safely wear a mask. My only infraction at the Phoenix VA is not to wear a mask. Yet, this is considered a “behavioral problem,” and I am wrong for behaving in a manner that insists that my safety comes first!
From June 2020 to date, the charge has been, “Wear a mask or a face shield to receive service in the VA.” Then, I got arrested while wearing a face shield and told my failure to wear a mask is “disruptive behavior.” Seriously, not wearing a mask somehow disrupts the entire hospital and keeps it from running efficiently. Refusing to believe the letter my VA provided Primary Care Provider wrote (August 2020) for my employer regarding my inability to breathe while wearing a mask. The VA Police have continued to escalate situations to reflect “disruptive behavior patterns.” Yet, I am the one punished, and I am the one injured; I am the one being denied care.
What are petty tyrants?
James Abyad quoted the Urban Dictionary for the definition of petty, which exactly expresses the sentiment of petty. Urban Dictionary defines petty as “making things, events, or actions normal people dismiss as trivial or insignificant into excuses to be upset, uncooperative, childish, or stubborn.” It further defines it as “a person who is purposefully childish with the intent of eliciting a reaction,” or “someone who does something in an attempt to hurt another person but makes themselves look stupid.” Tyrant is a cruel and oppressive ruler, per Webster. Hence, a Petty Tyrant is a childish, insignificant, oppressive ruler.
Well, Dr. MacKichan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer VISN 22, 300 Oceangate, Suite 700, Long Beach, California, 90802, you are incorrect! I have followed all written VA directives. Do not assume that it is my fault the Phoenix VAMC leadership cannot write down a COVID Mask Directive and operational policy that supports all veteran health contingencies. Then train the staff coherently upon written guidelines and directives, and engage in an honest and forthright manner with veterans seeking care. Where are the written directives governing COVID Mask Wearing? You claimed to have reviewed all the information; I have asked for these documents and been pointed to a sign.
On the topic of written directives, written operational policies, written patient guidelines, and written job descriptions and duties, let’s talk about how the VA Police can injure people and not be held accountable! The VA Police attacked me on 07 December 2020, violently pushed, then spun into a wall. My C-and L-Spines did not move, and my T-Spine turned; I dropped like a rock sustaining spinal injuries, knee injuries, and got cut on my right hand and arm. Worse, being handcuffed with my arms behind my back caused bruised wrists that were jerked by more VA Police officers on 10 December when I sought medical attention. I am an 80% disabled person with mobility issues, yet your letter claims all the action of the Phoenix VAMC was in accordance with written policies, guidelines, and directives. Well, I possess a Missouri mindset, “Show ME!” Show me the written and published policies, guidelines, and procedures that allow VA Police Officers to physically assault patients! Show me the written and published policies, guidelines, and procedures that allow me to be refused treatment. Prove through written and accessible documents how the decision for this hodgepodge of ineptitude can label me a “behavioral issue” when my only discretion is not physically and safely wearing a mask!
You claim to have reviewed the actions of the police officers who routinely have medically protected HIPAA information about people being arrested, joke about this information, act in a manner that brings shame to all Federal Police Officers. What happens to these unprofessional officers and their despicable commander? When do my rights to have my HIPAA-protected information withheld from parties who do not need this information? When do all the other veterans being served and not being served by the Phoenix VAMC become protected under HIPAA? I am not the only veteran being refused service, denied care, and abused and injured by the VA Police for not wearing a mask, while also not being a “behavioral issue.”
Since your letter proclaims loudly that your review was thorough, independent, and comprehensive, and as the VISN 22 Chief Medical Officer, surely you cannot condone illegal activities being masked by calling a patient a “behavioral issue.” The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA; 1986), a federal law, requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. EMTALA was regularly abused at the Albuquerque VAMC, and I reported this issue multiple times. EMTALA’s abuse and illegal activity at the Phoenix, VA Medical Center are worse, and I have reported this issue multiple times. Twice I have followed my primary care provider’s instructions to report to the VA ER for treatment, and twice I have been refused service. Thus, what is to be done to correct this obvious deficiency in VISN 22 treatment of veterans, service members, and dependents by VISN 22 emergency medical care providers and the staff, including the VA Police, who should have no influence upon care being received or who should receive care?
Your letter discusses “the most effective manner to have the behavioral flag lifted” as “checking-in with the VA Phoenix Police.” Do you know what that entails? Did your “thorough, comprehensive, and independent” investigation uncover what happens at this “check-in?” I was told clearly what happens; I will be evaluated for wearing a mask, found not wearing a mask, arrested, cited, and denied service for not wearing a mask. Then, I will have a black mark on my behavioral flag record for disorderly conduct! I am not disorderly in my behavior because I cannot safely wear a mask! What part of this do you, as a medical doctor, fail to comprehend?
I had my gallbladder removed in a Phoenix hospital (Sept 2020), never had a problem not wearing a mask. I have had MRIs completed (Aug 2020), never had to wear a mask. I have been seen three times in an emergency room and never had to wear a mask (Jun 2020, Sept 2020, Jan 2021). The only medical service provider demanding through compulsion and fear that I wear a mask, which would place my health at risk, is the Phoenix VAMC. Yet, you as a medical doctor cannot understand this issue, the problems with unwritten policies and directives, leadership failures to train staff properly, and you allow petty authoritarians wearing VA Police Badges to enforce a reign of terror at the VAMC in Phoenix. Hence, you are part of the problem in failed leadership, poor management, and detestable petty authoritarianism!
I always interact with the staff at VAMC’s, even when they are wrong, in a respectful manner, knowing that the problems of dumb policies, time-wasting procedures, and bureaucratic inertia are the fault of the leaders hiding in their offices and cubicles. I have been interacting with the VAMC’s across America, and the inept staff, since I left the service in 2004! Never having a problem, never having an issue, and never getting injured by or even interacting with VA Police. This all changed in June 2020. The VAMC refused to write down a comprehensive directive for COVID Patient Mask Wearing. I get blamed for following the unwritten policy and directives, then falsely accused of being “disorderly” in my behavior, then falsely accused, again, for being a “behavioral issue!” I am not in the wrong here! I am not a “behavior issue!” I am not disrupting hospital operations, placing other patients at risk, or being violent! Where are my rights in this farrago and railroading scheme?
Your boilerplate response indicates this issue has reached the final point. I beg to differ! I will have my name cleared of these false charges. I will not be blamed for the ineptitude of the leadership at the Phoenix VAMC and VISN 22! I will not be silent and meek in the corner because you cannot tell the difference between standing for one’s rights against tyranny and compulsion and oppression through bureaucratic fiat! I have done nothing worthy of these fallacious claims, false accusations, and the Phoenix VAMC and VISN 22 will admit this publicly when I am done cleaning my name of the scum you have thrown upon it! Make no mistake; I am not angry, but I will have my rights restored, my name clear, and satisfaction from the injuries and treatment I have been made to suffer!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.