76-year old U.S. Navy veteran Peter A. Kaisen joined a group of 20 veterans who commit suicide every day. He first went to the emergency room at the Northport Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) on Long Island seeking assistance for mental health issues. When he was turned away, Kaisen went back to his car and shot himself.
As reported by the Washington Times, Christopher Goodman, a spokesman for the hospital, said:
There was no indication that he presented to the ER prior to the incident.
The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy.
There are so many things wrong with this tragic incident. First of all, The New York Times reported this particular hospital’s
five operating rooms have stood empty and unused, shut down after sand-size black particles began falling from air ducts.
Secondly, from the Long Island Press, Northport VAMC’s site claims
There is always a caring mental health doctor available 24/7 in our Emergency Room.
And the final insult? No one at the ER bothered to tell Kaisen that he could visit the mental health building which was open seven days a week!
Other workers said
Someone dropped the ball. They should not have turned him away.
“U.S. House Representatives Steve Israel and Peter King sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey on Thursday demanding an “expeditious and transparent investigation” of the incident.
However, the FBI really can’t “investigate” a suicide even though it occurred on federal property. This sounds too much like political posturing by these representatives.
But here is the kick-in-the-butt rub about Kaisen’s death – and every veteran needs to know this:
Forget about the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act signed by President Obama on August 7, 2014. Most poor, uninsured citizens as well as undocumented immigrants in our country already know:
Federal law requires hospital emergency rooms to evaluate and stabilize all patients regardless of their ability to pay.
It was unfortunate that Kaisen was not aware that this option was open to him. Perhaps that would have reduced the number of suicides that day to 19 from 20.
And that would have been a good day.