People speaking on condition of anonymity told the New York Times that a veteran’s recent suicide in the parking lot of a VA hospital may have been preventable.
“He went to the ER and was denied service,” one hospital worker at Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, New York told the New York Times. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.”
Peter Kaisen of nearby Islip went to the hospital, which is affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Though a hospital spokesman says there is no official record that Kaisen visited the emergency room before his death, hospital workers say that someone messed up.
According to the Times’ anonymous sources, Kaisen should have been immediately sent to the facility’s mental health ward, where there was a mental health professional on call at all hours of the day.
“Someone dropped the ball,” the employee told the Times. “They should not have turned him away.”
On his obituary page at the Moloney Funeral Home, little information is given on Kaisen.
“Devoted husband, beloved father, grandfather, cherished friend and brother,” the page reads.
Since the Times story was published, people with concern for Kaisen and other vets have found the obituary page and have begun to fill it with words of encouragement.
“I read what happened to you. Your death is not in vain. Through your tragedy, may the bureaucrats change policies to help others that were in your situation,” one person wrote. “Thank you for your service to our country. May my words represent others who care about men like you and want only good things for our Veterans. A grateful nation mourns your death. RIP.”
Earlier this year, the Times detailed the decaying conditions at the Northport hospital where Kaisen allegedly sought treatment and noted that several operating rooms were deemed unusable.
The Times obtained an internal email that detailed the complaints about the facility.
“The dust is depositing on HVAC registers, ceilings, walls, and on medical equipment,” the email said.
“Maintenance continues to clean the surfaces but, as the staff has observed, the dust reappears within a short time. At least three staff members have indicated their concern that this environment has affected them. They have been to employee health and to their individual physicians.”
The email was sent in April to administrators at the hospital.