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A VA Excursion During Lockdown
By John Zutz
In Wisconsin, the Governor's isolation order began at 8 a.m. In Milwaukee, the Mayor, perhaps trying to be first, ordered people to stay home beginning at midnight. My VA appointment was for 8:30.
The VA made two robocalls over the weekend advising that if my appointment should be canceled they'd call. Getting no cancellation calls, I headed for the hospital, arriving just before 8.
I had expected the streets to be pretty deserted, but I was amazed at how many people consider themselves "essential." 8:00 is starting time for many VA employees, and a steady stream was entering. However, the patient parking lot was less than half full. I managed to pull up right in front.
Outside the entrance, there was a large tent everyone had to pass through. Workers keep right. Patients go left. First question: Do you have an appointment? Yes, yes I do. Second Question: Do you have a headache, sore throat, lung congestion? No. I was allowed inside the building where my appointment was confirmed.
I was concerned finding this was the extent of the screening. I thought they should have at least taken a quick temp. More on this later.
The inside of the building has been altered. Lobbies containing waiting areas have been closed off. There were very few people wandering through. I arrived at my clinic waiting area. There was one other person in a space that would normally hold at least 20. The usual four clerks were behind the desk, but they seemed busier than normal.
There seemed to be fewer techs in the clinic, but I wasn't there long enough to tell. My blood was drawn, I filled out a form, I made an appointment for next month (pending the future of the bug) and I was out of there.
Here's my problem. The VA went to some expense to alter the interior and to set up and staff the screening area outside the building. But if they were serious, I believe they should have been scanning the temperature of every person entering. Amazon sells a wide variety of non-contact infrared thermometers for between $50 and $100. The cheapest one sells for $24 including battery. Point it at a person's forehead and get a temp readout. Over 100 degrees? No entrance, except to be put in a bed.
I was told they didn't have the equipment. So, who are they trying to fool? They could get next-day delivery.
John Zutz is a Milwaukee VVAW member.