Viral Facebook photos of veterans in ER prompt investigation of VA hospital

A Facebook post showing photos of one wheelchair-bound veteran slumping over in pain and another lying on the floor at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital have gone viral online. The post has triggered an internal investigation into the facility’s practices.

A couple waiting in the emergency room at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina was alarmed by the treatment of two veterans who were awaiting care. They were also concerned about the behavior of one nurse in particular. They took photos of the two men and shared them on Facebook with the intention of bringing attention to the plight of veterans and encouraging better treatment in the future.

Jesse Lee, the man in the wheelchair, said he suffered for five hours before being treated for severe phantom pain arising from a leg amputation. Another veteran reportedly decided to lie on the floor after the nurse yelled at him and did not allow him to sit in a reclining chair. According to the Facebook post, he was suffering from “pneumonia-like” symptoms that made it difficult for him to walk or sit.

The medical center is investigating the situation. Durham VA Director DeAnne Seekins called it a “regrettable incident.” She said the nurse who was on duty was removed from patient care pending an internal review. Seekins said although there was a long wait because it was one of the emergency room’s “busiest days,” she believed the patients still received quality care.

The McMenamins refused the facility’s request to remove the images, which do not show the veterans’ faces. When asked by The Huffington Post how he felt about the post, Lee said, “I’m fine with it. People need to know. If somebody is in that much pain, I think they should notice it or take better care of the person.”