A picture of Senator Tom Harkin
Thomas H.
Former Democrat IA
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    Tribute to Arizona VA Medical Staff

    by Former Senator Tom Harkin

    Posted on 2013-02-13

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    HARKIN. Mr. President, on January 31, one of the most unique and interesting individuals I have ever known passed away while receiving hospice care at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. He was my brother-in-law, Joe McQuaid, a 92-year-old veteran of the Second World War.

    I will have more to say about this unique individual at a later date. But, today, I want to express my deep gratitude to all of the wonderful professionals at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System for the extraordinary care they gave to him in the last 2 months of his life.

    Joe McQuaid was a strapping 6 feet 4 inches. He was healthy all of his life until last November 15. On that day, after his daily exercise, he fell in a freak accident and broke his hip. He was operated on at the Tucson VA hospital, and his hip seemed to be healing just fine. But after being transferred to a local rehabilitation facility, Joe fell again and re-broke his hip. He was readmitted to the VA hospital, but his condition deteriorated rapidly and he passed away on January 31.

    The personnel at the VA medical center in Tucson could not have been more professional, skilled, and compassionate in the care they gave to Joe McQuaid in those final two months. They did everything possible to treat his injury and help him to recover. But once it became clear that recovery was not possible, they took wonderful care of him, admitting him to hospice care, attending to his needs, and ensuring that he had a gentle passing.

    As a veteran myself, during all my years in Congress I have always been very supportive of our VA system and [[Page S698]] our veterans. I have long believed that our nation has a sacred obligation to those who have borne the burdens of battle and national defense, and we must ensure that they have access to first-rate health care.

    So it was with great pride that I had this opportunity to witness firsthand the extraordinary care and attention that staff members at the Tucson VA center were giving to this 92-year-old veteran.

    At the risk of leaving out the names of others who cared for my brother-in-law, I specifically want to thank and salute Jonathan Gardner, the director of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, for his leadership of that institution and for his many years of distinguished service to the VA system. Also Julianne French, a registered nurse and administrative assistant to the chief medical officer, who was so responsive to my inquiries and calls. Also Dr. David Emelity, the acting chief of staff, Dr. Richard Hoffman, and Dr. Joao Ferreira, all of who took a deep personal interest in Joe's medical condition.

    And a special thank you to Glenda Riggs, clinical nurse leader in the intensive care unit, who cared for Joe and went out of her way to keep me and members of Joe's family informed at every step of his treatment and care. I can't speak too highly of Nurse Riggs' skill and compassion, and her tireless attention to all of her patients and their families.

    The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System has a wonderful team, with great leadership from Jonathan Gardner. It is clear to me that any veteran who comes through the doors of that center is going to get superb treatment.

    I am proud of all the people who work in America's VA system, and I am grateful for the care they give to our veterans. My recent experience, seeing firsthand the quality of care and the quality of staff at the center in Tucson, reaffirms my faith in the VA system and my respect for the great work they do.

    Again, I just want to thank the entire team at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. Thank you for all you did for this 92-year-old World War II veteran, Joe McQuaid. And thank you for the same high- quality care you give to all of the veterans at the Tucson center.


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