A disabled Navy veteran is speaking out after she says she was kicked out of a local VA hospital after an abrupt decision to discharge her, rather than transfer her to a rehabilitation center.
Meosha Thomas says that physicians and officials at Jesse Brown VA Hospital moved to discharge her after she had been receiving treatment at the facility.
“I was not treated the way I earned to be treated,” she said. “I could not move. I could not walk and you kicked me out of the hospital.”
Thomas’ condition is known as lymphedema, a disorder caused by an accumulation of protein-rich fluid that leads to tissue swelling. The fluid, normally drained through the body’s lymphatic system, according to the Mayo Clinic, instead becomes trapped in different parts of the body, generally in the arms or legs but also in the chest wall, abdomen and neck.
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Thomas says she spent almost two weeks at the facility being treated for an infection. She says medical staff told her and her family that she would be transferred to an outside rehabilitation center, to help her rebuild her strength and to help her walk again.
Then, on Friday, she says that plan abruptly changed.
“They said ‘no, you are going home,’” she recalled. “I said ‘what changed in 24 hours?’ They never answered that. They told me that I had one hour to find someone to come get me.
“I felt like trash,” she added.
Thomas says she tried to contact her mother, but couldn’t while she was at work.
“I said ‘can we wait until this evening so my mom can do it?’ Or if we could wait until the following morning,” she said.
She said that after she refused to be discharged, medical staff and security personnel came to her room to get her dressed.
“They literally just started taking my gown off, trying to put my clothes back on,” she said.
Thomas says she was put in a wheelchair in a hallway at the hospital, where she sat for four hours until her mother arrived.
“I kept telling myself not to cry,” she said.
Officials at the hospital say they are “aware of allegations” of mistreatment, but said that they are unable to discuss the matter without Thomas’ written consent.
“The health and well-being of all our patients here at Jesse Brown is always our top priority,” hospital officials said in a statement. “It is important to us that our patients not only receive excellent health care but are also treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. This is why we take any allegation of mistreatment very seriously.”
Thomas says she is living in her art studio, and while she is receiving help from family, friends and even strangers after making social media posts about the incident, she says she is still having to work through the pain caused by her ordeal.
“I want them to understand this was not a privilege,” the veteran said. “This is my right, and mistreatment was not a part of that plan.”