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Ben's Fight for Survival

Organized by: Benjamin Kwaterski

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THE STORY:

I was employed at the Tomah VA (Veterans Affairs) from 04/07/2013 to 07/09/2014. I was wrongfully terminated. Due to my lack of money, I could not afford a lawyer to fight it. With the economy the way it is, it is very difficult to find work even as a nurse, especially after being fired from the VA. Managers are hesitant in hiring you. I was taking care of a veteran with COPD and administered his breathing treatment. I had his oxygen on 2L per minute with a nasal cannula since he is oxygen dependent. After 5 minutes the certified nursing assistant came and informed me that the veteran’s face was turning blue and his O2 sats were in the low 40’s. I, along with another registered nurse, ran down to his room and took the necessary measures to reviving the patient. The veteran had taken his oxygen off while receiving his breathing treatment. This veteran is very non-compliant and has taken his O2 off during his breathing treatments many times with other staff members. He refuses to elevate the head of his bed as well. I called the doctor and did everything by the book. The other RN, who is a very good nurse and my preceptor, said I did an excellent job and my documentation was thorough. I was fired for administering a breathing treatment to a veteran who is oxygen dependent, without his oxygen. His oxygen was on and he took it off. I could not prove it and after an investigation, I was terminated. Nobody witnessed whether I had his O2 on or not but witnesses did come forward and say that this veteran is non-compliant and has done this many times before. Apparently that was not enough and I was fired. I could not afford an attorney to fight my case. The union could not do much either because I was still on probation, which lasts for two years for RNs. I was put on authorized absence with pay on 04/08/2014 pending an investigation and officially terminated on 7/09/2014. Since then I have had difficulty finding work as an RN. At the VA I was making a base pay of $28.01/hr plus the shift differential for PM shift. I was full-time (40 hrs/week on PMs). With the PM differential I was making $30.50/hour. Plus I worked a lot of overtime and holidays I was payed double time. I have not been able to find work making nearly that much since being let go. I have had no luck finding employment as a nurse. Who wants to hire someone who was fired from the VA? I started an online business building a major website called Viral Atom. The url is viralatom.com. I was partnered with several other people but none of us made any money yet. We have confidence that the site will be successful but it is taking a long time to get it developed. It was getting hacked into, which was setting us back. I took out my pension as a lump sum to live on until the money started rolling in from our website but now my retirement is gone. I was employed at Wal-Mart for two weeks unloading the truck for $9.00/hr. This is not nearly enough to pay my mortgage and other expenses. This job did not work out because it was extremely hot where we worked and I was getting sick and dehydrated even though I was drinking plenty of fluids. The management treated the employees terrible. They constantly yelled at us to speed up and we were going as fast as we could. I was not used to the work and on top of being sick and dehydrated, I was very sore, exhausted, and my feet were killing me and getting blisters. I could not physically go any faster. I did not even receive proper training. They just threw me in there and I had to learn fast. I was not even supposed to work on the floor until my computer training was done and they kept pulling me from my computer training to help unload the truck because of how short-handed they were. Most of my co-workers were nice but I felt like I was in the way and slowing them down. I was pulled to the floor prematurely without the proper orientation and training that was required before starting on the floor. This raised a safety issue. I did not request to be transferred to another department because this would not have changed the way management treated me. They treat their staff like pack mules for $9.00/hour. My co-workers stated that the reason Wal-Mart is so short on staff is because of the way management treats them. I had applied for unemployment but was denied. I worked for several months at Kwik Trip but was terminated because I forgot to card someone when he purchased alcohol. He was at least 21 years of age but you’re supposed to card people who look under 30. There were also a couple of drive offs from the gas tanks that were my fault because I forgot to ask them if they had fuel. There was one time I had accidentally charged somebody for the wrong gas. I’m sure these contributed to my termination. I also had horrible orientation at an extremely busy and fast paced store. These were common mistakes that many of the staff made, especially new employees. Luckily I was finally able to find a job. I am currently employed with Morrow Home in Sparta, Wisconsin. This is a full-time RN position with plenty of overtime available because they are very short handed. I will still be employed with Premier picking up extra hours at other facilities to supplement my income. However, I had to file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy because I fell way behind on my mortgage payments. The mortgage company was threatening to take away my house. I applied for mortgage assistance twice and both times they denied me assistance because “It would require making changes to my account.” Carrington Mortgage has not been cooperative or understanding in this matter. I’m $16,000 behind in my payments but owe a total of $160,000. I also owe $42,000 in student loans, $5,500 to the Federal Government, and $4,500 to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. This totals out to be $212,000 in debt. I’m afraid I will lose my house and end up on the streets pretty soon. Please help in any way you can. I greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much! Kind Regards, Benjamin Kwaterski

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