The Durham VA in North Carolina has come under fire after photos appeared on Facebook of patients left lying on the floor. Marine veteran Stephen McMenamin and his wife Hanna could not believe what they saw in the waiting room:

“It was very upsetting,” Stephen McMenamin said. He and his wife said they saw a handful of older veterans mistreated and ignored during the seven hours they were at the hospital, including an aged-veteran in a wheelchair.

“He had been sitting there for quite some time groaning and convulsing in pain,” McMenamin said. “Almost to the point of where he was falling out of his wheelchair.”

“He was visibly in pain,” said Hanna. “And I think the thing with that that disturbed me so much was that there were people just sitting there acting like nothing was happening and he was sitting right in front of them and they were not even acknowledging that it was happening.”

The McMenamins and others asked the staff to help the man, but everyone asked said no. McMenamin finally gave the man the wheelchair he had, but a nurse quickly acted:

“He sat in it for probably 15 minutes until the head nurse came around and kicked him out and said he can’t do that, he can’t be in that area. She was very rough with him and just completely insensitive,” he said.

Another man who could not get comfortable in the waiting room caught the couple’s attention. He finally gave up and lied down on the floor:

“He just kind of laid down and said, ‘I can’t get up, I won’t get up. Please get me a blanket until you can see me.’ ” McMenamin says security guards helped the man up after about five minutes and he was taken out of the waiting room.

“It’s just horrible sitting in a room like that with people who could have been my grandfather,” Hanna added, “in that much pain and having people not even react, it seemed like.

“The majority of the people working there were very nice to us. They were great,” she added. “It’s just that you have these people that don’t care it seems like, and from what I’ve read from the comments, this is happening all over the place. You get people that just don’t care for what they’re doing and they feel like they can’t be fired, so they just kind of get away with it. I just think it’s unacceptable.”

Vietnam veteran Jesse Lee told WRAL that he is the man in the wheelchair. He visited the VA for phantom pains he has experienced after doctors amputated his leg:

“Somebody in real bad pain should be seen,” Lee said. “It felt like a railroad spike was going through my foot. It’s like one of the worst pains you’ve ever felt in your life.”

Lee said he was in pain for several hours before he was seen. McMenamin said the problem was with one particular VA nurse who appeared to essentially ignore the pleas from patients.

Lee also said that he asked the employees numerous times if anyone could help them and all said he had to wait.

DeAnne Seekins, Director of the Durham VA, stated that the pictures are very misleading. She claimed the employees checked the surveillance videos from that night and everything checked out. She said that the veterans received the help they needed and “given extra care.”

However, Seekins would not hand over the tapes to CBS North Carolina when asked.

Seekins admitted the VA had a very busy night, but every single veteran was “triaged and treated based on the severity of their illness.”

The director also said that two of the veterans did not appreciate their photos posted on Facebook and asked the McMenamins to remove the photos. The veteran lying on the floor even apologized for his actions.

But the McMenamins “stand by their post” and said “the veteran who was slumped in his wheelchair supports their efforts and was suffering major pain while waiting.”

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