Every day there are new headlines about the monumental problems in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The problems at the VA are so serious that they must focus on the life-threatening issues, and there is no way that the VA can possibly deal with problems that are just infuriating.
For example, the parking lot at the VA Outpatient Clinic is a nightmare. That parking lot is a leading candidate for the worst parking lot in the entire country.
To see for yourself, just drive to the VA Outpatient Clinic at 465 Westfall Road in Rochester, NY during normal business hours and try to find a parking space.
The parking lot is much too small for the volume of traffic, and the layout of the parking lot is similar to an obstacle course.
The Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic is a long rectangular building with an east-west axis.
If you get off Interstate 390 and drive east on Westfall Road, you drive right past the front of the building, and the parking lot. You can easily see if there are any open parking spaces, but you can’t get there from here.
There is no entrance to the parking lot from Westfall Road, which is a main thoroughfare.
Instead you have to drive past the building and turn right into Sawgrass Drive, a quiet side street that loops through the medical facilities in the area.
Then you have to drive past the exit from the parking lot, where there are usually numerous cars parked on both sides of the exit driveway.
Then you drive past the rest of the building, before you have to turn right again into a narrow entrance driveway that runs behind the building.
There are often cars parked alongside the grass on Sawgrass Drive, just past the turn for the driveway. Those cars are either overflow from the VA Outpatient Clinic or cars parked there by veterans who decided not to risk driving into the parking lot.
When you make the turn, the parking lot is on your right, but there’s a barrier that blocks entrance to the parking lot from the narrow driveway. Once again, you can see it, but you can’t get there from here.
The VA could easily rearrange the barrier strips so people could enter the parking lot and then drive out the exit ramp without disrupting the flow of traffic, but that isn’t how the VA does things.
Instead, you have to drive behind the entire building, between the dumpsters, the air conditioning unit, and a row of cars parked diagonally along the south edge of the property. It’s a good idea to drive slowly and carefully because there isn’t much room.
Chances are, those cars belong to the people who work at the Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic, because there are seldom, if ever, any open parking spots, and the only door on that side of the building is a staff entrance.
The true heroes of the parking lot are the bus drivers who drive the shuttle buses from the Canandaigua VA Hospital.
Since so many services are only offered at the outpatient Clinic, and not the hospital, the VA runs a shuttle service to transport veterans the 32 miles from the hospital to the Outpatient Clinic.
Somehow, the bus drivers manage to negotiate the driveway without scraping the sides of the shuttle buses on cars, dumpsters, or the air conditioning unit.
The narrow driveway ends at the west end of the building, near the emergency entrance where the ambulances pull in and pull out.
The driveway widens quite a bit here, but as you would expect, much of the potential parking area is marked off with yellow diagonal stripes and no parking signs, so the ambulances can get in and out.
On any given day, there are cars, vans, and pickup trucks parked on every inch of pavement that isn’t marked off with yellow stripes.
At the northeast corner of the building, you have to turn right again, to enter the parking lot in front of the main entrance. There are usually cars and trucks parked along the grass at the edge of the parking lot because all the spaces are filled.
The parking lot is almost always jammed beyond capacity because the VA Outpatient Clinic is provides the Primary Care Services for all the veterans in the Rochester area.
Some specialty care services are available at another facility a couple of blocks east at the Clinton Crossings Medical Complex, but the vast majority of services are located at the Outpatient Clinic, so veterans from all over Monroe county have to come here for treatment.
Medical Services offered at the Outpatient Clinic include: Audiology, Dental, Dietetics, Gastrointestinal, Internal Medicine, Laboratory, Ophthalmology, Pharmacy, Physical Rehab Medicine, Primary Care, Prosthetics & Sensory Aids, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy, Social Work, Urology, and Women's Wellness.
The clinic also houses the offices of the Behavioral Health staff whose services include: Group & Individual Psychotherapy, Substance Abuse Treatment, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) Counseling, Sexual Trauma Counseling, as well as Geriatrics and Extended Care Services.
So it is no wonder that hundreds, if not thousands, of veterans visit the facility every day.
And every day, those veterans have to deal with what just might be the worst parking lot in America.
Imagine what it must be like for someone who works there and who has to go out at lunchtime. They have to go through the parking nightmare all over again, with the added stress that they have to get back to work.
You can laugh at the situation in the parking lot at the Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic, because it is just infuriating rather than life threatening, like some of the other problems facing the VA.
No one bothers to take the time to make it less difficult to park at the Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic.
It is a classic case of government bureaucrats ignoring a problem because they can.