TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A local veteran has lived with pain for years, but when she went to Tampa’s James Haley VA, she claims she was initially stonewalled.
Nerissa Prescott, of Winter Haven, said both her knees were injured from wear and tear during her four-year stint in the Navy about 20 years ago. She describes the pain in her left knee as “excruciating.”
“When I first got established with the orthopedics department at the Tampa VA hospital, they blew me off without even reviewing my records,” Prescott said. “They initially refused to do a new MRI and only agreed to one after I argued profusely.”
A Mother’s Day note underscored how Prescott’s pain impacted her family.
“When I fell off the horse on my birthday, even when your knee was not so good, you ran as fast as you could,” the note read.
Prescott said Haley staff members did eventually do an MRI on her knee and would later “admit the damage was far worse than they thought it was.”
“Incredibly frustrating,” Prescott said.
On her request, Prescott was allowed to go outside the VA into what is known as Community Care. That arm of the VA was created to pay private sector doctors to care for veterans who wait too long for healthcare, need help with issues not available through the VA or have to drive too far to a facility.
A civilian surgeon was ready to put Prescott’s procedure on the calendar but could not do that until the VA scheduled pre-operation procedures.
But Prescott said that created a new set of problems and delays with the staff running Community Care blaming the VA and the VA blaming Community Care.
Prescott kept calling as her struggle continued.
“I was sitting with my phone in my hand all day,” Prescott recalled. “I’m waiting on a call with the VA. I have my phone in my hand, non-stop, waiting for that call.”
8 on Your Side contacted the VA, asking what was taking so long. In a matter of days, Prescott’s pre-operation appointment was scheduled.
“I don’t think I hear from the VA without you,” Prescott said. “I think I would still be playing phone tag with four different people, trying to get it taken care of.”
Prescott’s surgery was scheduled for Monday, but she said she had to postpone the procedure until Aug. 1 after her child came down with COVID-19.
The VA did not respond to questions about Prescott’s case, but an email indicates a spokesperson for the agency did contact Prescott.