Tag Archives: Thomas Creek VA Medical Center

Still an ardent fan of the VA medical services

You might have seen on this blog that I have received marvelous service from the massive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical operation.

I enrolled about a half-dozen years ago at the Thomas Creek VA Medical Center in Amarillo. It took me about 20 minutes to get signed up, after which the admitting officer said simply: “Welcome aboard.”

I received great care there. It was timely. The medical staff is always courteous. I rarely had to wait for anything.

Here is what I wrote shortly after enrolling at the VA in Amarillo:

Better late than never

Then we moved to the Metroplex. I have switched my enrollment to the Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center in Bonham. The early verdict? It’s still great.

I went for a routine checkup this past week. The doctor asked me if I had any concerns. I mentioned that I have these “skin tags” on my neck. I told her I want them removed.

“You will have to go to our VA clinic in Dallas,” she said. Fine. I’ll do it.

As I checked out of the Rayburn center, a young secretary took my information and said I should expect a call to set up an appointment in Dallas. Great. Have a good day. I got the call later in the week. I set up an appointment for this morning to have those annoying “tags” removed.

Here’s where it gets really stellar.

They told me to report 30 minutes prior to my 11 a.m. appointment. I drove this morning from Princeton to south Dallas … via McKinney. I got to the massive VA complex in Dallas. I blundered my way around the chaotic complex, parking finally in a covered garage. I walked into the main entrance and asked the receptionist: “Where is Building Two?”

“You are standing in Building Two,” he told me. Well, OK, then. I am living right.

I took the elevator to the clinic where I was told to report. I checked in. The young man behind the counter said I’d be called in for blood pressure testing prior to the doc’s visit. Fine. I waited about, oh, 8 minutes.

They called me in. The nurse took my BP, weighed me and escorted me to an exam room. At this point it was about 10:45 a.m., 15 minutes prior to my appointment.

Then a young man in physician’s scrubs walked in and said, “I’m sorry, I have another procedure to do before I get to you.” No worries.

He returned at 11:10 a.m. Dang! My appointment was for 11! He was 10 whole minutes late! He took care of the issue I had. He told me to call if I had any problems. Roger that.

I walked out of the building at 11:25 a.m. and headed straight for the house.

With all of this reported to you, I hereby declare categorically that my pre-paid medical plan obtained through the Department of Veterans Affairs remains a stellar benefit.

Happy Trails, Part 156: Change coming in health care

I learned a while ago that I am not crazy about change. At my age these days change can be a bit problematic.

This latest change chapter, though, seems a good bit less so as it approaches.

I’m hitting the road Thursday for Bonham, Texas, a few miles northeast of our home in Princeton. I am going to see a new health care provider at the Sam Rayburn Veterans Center.

The Thomas Creek VA Medical Center in Amarillo had been my health care provider since I enrolled in the Veterans Administration program a few years back. I have been impressed with the care I received at the Creek center.

Now it’s time to relocate to a more conveniently located VA center to obtain my pre-paid health care.

I managed to transfer all my medical records from Amarillo to the regional office in Dallas. Modern technology allowed me to do all of it via the phone. No sweat, man.

Well, now comes a bit of a test. We’ll see if I can get in and out of the Bonham VA center with the same timeliness I was able to do when I reported for my regular checkups at the Thomas Creek center.

The Department of Veterans Affairs came under intense criticism during the final years of the Obama administration. The DVA had that scandal involving patients who were dying while awaiting medical care in Phoenix. I’ve been fortunate to date in that I have been relatively healthy. My visits to the VA medical staff have been routine. I know that eventually my luck is going to run out, given that I am approaching my 70th birthday near the end of this year.

I might be retired, which gives me a lot of time to think about “things.” I have no particular concern as I change the place where I receive my regular medical checkups and care.

My experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs has been trouble-free. I intend to ensure that it stays that way for as long as I possibly can.

Glad to be enrolled in VA health care system


Count me as one red-blooded American military veteran who’s glad to be enrolled in the health care system the federal government provides for us.

I had another remarkably positive experience this morning in that regard. I thought I’d share it here.

The medical staff at the Thomas Creek Veterans Medical Center here in Amarillo had asked me to seek an abdominal ultrasound; the purpose is to look for any sign of an aneurysm in my gut.

So, I signed up with an insurance provider that contracts with the VA and made the appointment at Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital, one of two acute care hospitals in the city.

My appointment was set for 9:15 a.m. They told me to report to the front desk at 8:45, get registered and then wait for my turn.

I got there at 8:35, reported to the front desk. They took my info down, told me to go to a waiting room … and wait.

I waited all of about six minutes. A young woman came out, asked me for my date of birth and Social Security number and led me back to the lab area.

I waited there for, oh, maybe 10 minutes. Out came a lab tech named Chris, who took me to the treatment room.

He asked me to lie down on the table. He left the room and returned about two minutes later. He then ran the ultrasound machine over my abdomen.

Twelve minutes later? I was done.

I looked at my watch: 9:20 a.m. That’s five minutes after my visit was scheduled to begin.

I’m not yet sure what the VA had to do with the promptness and efficiency of this visit, but I’ll give the agency some measure of credit. It might be, although I likely cannot prove it, that BSA staffers give VA patients a little higher priority … maybe?

Whatever. There’s something quite positive to be said for this pre-paid health care benefit.

VA scandal: worse than we thought

You’re probably wondering: Will the bad news ever stop piling up on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs?

I know this: I’m wondering when it’ll stop.

CNN uncovered a major scoop this week with revelations that the Phoenix, Ariz., VA clinic had covered up the number of veterans who died because of too-long wait times to obtain health care.

The number of deaths is worse than we thought!


Until the Veterans Affairs Department, the White House and the president of the United States himself get to the bottom of this mess and fix it, I am going to be leery whenever I go to the Amarillo VA hospital and clinic for my routine checkups.

The Thomas Creek Veterans Medical Center in Amarillo hasn’t been fingered specifically in any of this investigation. The problems with wait times, though, appear to run throughout the vast VA health care network.

Whistleblower Pauline DeWenter told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “deceased” notes on patients were removed from files to make the clinic’s job performance look better. As CNN.com reports: “DeWenter should know. DeWenter is the actual scheduling clerk at the Phoenix VA who said for the better part of a year she was ordered by supervisors to manage and handle the so-called ‘secret waiting list,’ where veterans’ names of those seeking medical care were often placed, sometimes left for months with no care at all.”

The government has said for decades that veterans deserve the best medical care possible. They’re not getting it. Even though I, too, am a veteran I’ve been blessed with good health, so I’ll refer to the vets in jeopardy as “they” or “them.”

Until we get this situation repaired to everyone’s satisfaction, I am going to pray for the good health of all veterans who seek medical care every one of our VA clinics. That includes the Thomas Creek VA Medical Center right here in good ol’ Amarillo, Texas.

This just in: I'm going to live

Given that I posted a blog item a few days ago about my impending medical appointment at the Thomas Creek Veterans Medical Center in Amarillo, I thought I’d provide a brief — and detail-free — update.

The bottom line: I’m going to live a good bit longer, if everything stays the same for a while.

I mention all this only because of the controversy surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA secretary, Eric Shinseki, has resigned. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wants the FBI to investigate the deaths of those 40 veterans in Phoenix. President Obama has all but said heads likely will roll as the investigation continues. VA medical centers across the country now are under the microscope — and I only can assume that includes the Creek medical center here in Amarillo.

No worries for yours truly. I was in and out in less than an hour. Got the lab work done. Visited with the nurse practitioner, who read me the results of the labs; all of ’em look good.

I was out the door and headed for the house.

Oh, how I hope the Creek center isn’t producing the hideously long wait times discovered at other VA-run hospitals.

So far, barely a year into my VA medical enrollment, I cannot complain one teeny-tiny bit about the care I’ve received.

Let’s hope it stays that way.

Some scandals you take personally

Allow me this admission.

Some political controversies are more personal than others. Some of them skip across my radar and then they’re gone; others have this way of hitting you personally.

The Veterans Administration health care scandal hits quite close to home. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said today that President Obama is “outraged,” and “mad as hell” over allegations that veterans have died while awaiting health care. The president vows to get to the very bottom of what’s going on, McDonough said, and vows to correct all of it.


There had better be some major fixes, even if it requires heads to roll — starting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, who I happen to admire greatly. If it turns out he was oblivious to what happened at those VA hospitals, then he should go.

At issue is whether a reported 40-plus vets died while waiting for health care in Phoenix, Ariz., and that their wait times were disguised by phony records.

Why do I take this matter so personally? I enrolled at the Amarillo VA medical center a year ago. My friends tell me it must be nice to get “free medical care.” I correct them: “No, it’s prepaid.” Two years in the Army purchased that health care and I expect the government to take top-notch care of all of us who served.

So far so good at the Thomas Creek Medical Center in Amarillo. I’ve been more than happy with the care I’ve gotten. There’s a provision to add: I haven’t yet gotten sick. I enjoy good health and to date my regular checkups have gone well. I appreciate the respect shown by the VA hospital staff.

But this scandal — and I’ll call it that, because it rises to that level — needs to be resolved quickly and thoroughly all at once.

I’ll accept Denis McDonough’s assessment that the commander in chief is “mad as hell.” He damn well better be angry. He also needs to demonstrate that anger in a timely and highly visible manner.

One top Veterans Affairs official is gone. There well might have to be more of them shown the door. There also should be criminal proceedings launched against anyone shown to be culpable in the deaths of those veterans.

Yeah, some of these scandals pack a more powerful punch than others. This one hurts.