Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
“It’s Like You’re Coming Home”
In 1982, Marine Corps Veteran Pete Collorafi didn’t get a good first impression of VA when he was an inpatient at a VA Medical Center in Texas and it took him 22 years to give VA another chance.
Today, he said he wouldn’t go anywhere but a VA Medical Center.
"Things have changed quite a bit,” said Collorafi who served in the Marine Corps from 1972 to 1977.
Collorafi, who has been a patient at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC) since 2004, credits his change of attitude with the way he has been treated by VA staff, especially the nurses who have cared for him.
“It’s their attitude and the way they speak to you,” said Collorafi. “They’re never condescending. There’s always someone who’s willing to help you.”
During his most recent stay as an inpatient on 4 East, Collorafi said he was most impressed with two nurses who cared for him: Jana Lemons and Renee Amos. He said that while being thanked for his service is nice, Lemons and Amos demonstrated their thanks through their actions.
“Without them saying it, you can sense it and feel it,” said Collorafi. “If there’s something wrong, they’ll really go out of their way.”
He said it is the little things that VA nurses like Lemons and Amos do that nurses at other hospitals don’t do - like taking the time to talk to him when he’s feeling sad.
“Yes, it’s their job to give you medicine, but it’s not their job to talk to you,” said Collorafi. “If you’re depressed or sad, they’ll sit with you. That’s not they’re job. That’s where they go beyond.”
Collorafi said his time as an inpatient reminded him of the happy moments he has spent with family.
“You know how you go home and there’s that feeling of ‘Hi, we’re happy to see you’ and then when you leave, (they say) ‘oh, we’re so sad to see you go,’” said Collorafi. “It’s the same exact feeling that you have going to a parents or loved ones home. It’s very hard to describe. You just feel it. It’s like you’re coming home.”