Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The VA and Michele Swenson

While I know real well that the VA is getting all sorts of bad press these days, I am thankful for the treatment that I receive at the VA.

I have been in the VA system since 1995. And yes, over the years, I've seen a lot of changes. I saw Bill Clinton close VA Hospitals to help him balance the budget. I saw George W. Bush open hospitals and extend care to Veterans, especially after 9/11.

Recently, we've all seen the reports about the VA waiting lists around the country. And yes, Barack Obama has routinely under-funded and closed facilities just as Bill Clinton did in the 1990s and Jimmy Carter did back in the late 1970s.

And while administrators change, and yes some of them have needed to be replaced, there are those who do the job and provide some of the best health care in the world.

As I said before, I am thankful for the treatment that I receive at the VA. On the overall, it has been a wonderful association with some very caring professionals.

Last night I had an appointment at the VA Hospital in Sacramento. I had to be there at 9pm because of my problems with Sleep Apnea. for a "sleep study" to find out if I have , how bad it is, and how do I respond to a CPAP machine.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night's sleep.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines help by delivering air pressure through a mask placed over your nose while you sleep. With a CPAP (SEE-pap) machine, the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring.

Last night I arrived at 8:30pm, then at promptly at 9pm, I was met by VA technician Michele Swenson. She was very pleasant and professional and caring.

I like personable people. I like people who are not robots. I like people who  like their job. People who enjoy their work, their job, their employer are friendlier and more proficient in their job. 

When I go to a restaurant, I like to have a server who has a personality and is not there just going through the paces. The same goes for in the business world. When refinancing my home, I wanted to deal with someone who understood my concerns and was a real person -- instead of someone who I know is just there to make a dollar off me and could really care less about my concerns. 

There are a few wooden people in the VA system who are just there going through the paces to get through their shift, but honestly they are the minority. 

Many of the people I have met at the VA over the years are friendly and caring. The VA is fortunate to have a technician like Michele Swenson. She is intelligent, professional, very personable, and absolutely caring. Shen cares about the Veterans which she is assigned to. She cares if their medical needs are being met. And yes, she cares if they are getting the assistance they need. 

She is one of those people who you meet and realize immediately that she is what the VA and other hospitals need more of. 

Years ago, I knew a man who was married to an RN who was as cold as a fish. She had build a wall so high that no one could get over it, and her sense of caring was in the toilet. 

That is not the case with Michele Swenson. She looks at the Veterans in her care as "her Veterans." She feels a personal sense of accomplishment knowing that she provides "her Vets" with what they need. 

No, no short cuts and half-ass measures with Michele Swenson. From making sure that the CPAP mask in positioned correctly to making sure that her hospital folds on the bed is perfect after she changed them out, she is all about making sure everything is as perfect as possible. 

I thought I was going to be a little claustrophobic with the mask that seemed more like something used by fighter pilots stuck on my face, but because of her care and instruction -- it was great. 

While I have had problems with getting to sleep and staying asleep for many years, I was very impressed with the CPAP machine. And yes, Michele Swenson's explanation as to how it works and what it can do was spot on! 

Frankly, though I arrived with some doubts, I fell asleep faster than I normally do and woke this morning feeling better and more rested than I have in a very long time. 

So why tell my readers about Michele Swenson and the wonders of the CPAP sleep therapy? 

First, if you have Sleep Apnea, it is no joke and can be dangerous to your health and I hope you look into doing something about it. Second, the VA gets a lot of negative press these days. And yes, some see the whole VA system as bad when in fact it is not.

And lastly, I love passing on a good word about a great gal like Michele Swenson because she is so caring and she really does epitomize most who work in the VA system. 

I truly believe that not enough people get the praise they are due. More praise and less negative knit-picking can make this a better world -- especially when the person being praised really does deserve it.  

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

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