Army Staff Sgt. Alex Dillmann, his spine severely wounded by an explosion in Afghanistan, said his nurses at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center were horribly overworked and short-staffed.
He said his wound dressing wasn't changed often enough nor would he get pain medication promptly. If he soiled himself, Dillmann said, it could take 40 minutes for a nurse to answer a call button.
His wife started doing some of the nurse's work herself out of necessity, the couple said. Finally, Dillmann asked the Army to send him to another hospital. In September 2012, he transferred to a private Atlanta facility.
"Things were just being overlooked," said Dillmann, 27, of Tampa, who is now out of the hospital. "You feel powerless to do anything about it. I got out. But I know there are soldiers still dealing with the same problems."
Haley, one of the nation's busiest veterans hospitals and one of just five with a polytrauma center for the most critically wounded troops, has a severe nursing shortage that is endangering patients, according to the facility's nursing union, National Nurses United.
In February, the union filed a grievance against Haley saying the Department of Veterans Affairs facility wasn't following its own policy on maintaining adequate nurse staffing levels.
The facility needs to hire at least 200 nurses, and probably much more, to alleviate a shortage that impacts critically ill patients most, said Irma Westmoreland, the national chairwoman of NNU's VA unit.
"The nurses are working hundreds of hours of overtime," Westmoreland said. "They're exhausted and stressed out. There aren't enough hands to touch patients. It's very unsafe to have these folks do every single thing they're being asked to do." ... http://www.tampabay.com/incoming/uni...ortage/2110899