Monday, December 17, 2012

Veterans Administration Let's Man Die for lack of follow up treatment--US Treasury Sends Check For $0.10 after his DEATH

US Treasury Sends Check For $0.10 To Man Veterans Administration Let Die
December 17, 2012
By Lawrence Sinclair
In August 2012 a family began living a nightmare that they and many Doctors say they would never have been subjected to had the Veterans Administration not repeatedly denied medically necessary treatment which had been ordered by attending physicians over the past two years. In August 2012 Vietnam Veteran, husband, father, brother, son was issued a report from MD Anderson Cancer center in Orlando FL acknowledging Joel had been lost to follow up. After first being diagnosed in March 2010 with oropharyngeal carcinoma and treated by MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, FL from July 6th to August 24, 2012 under the care of Tirrell T. Johnson MD the Veterans Administration refused to authorize and/or conduct follow-up care. Joel was last seen in the MD Anderson Clinic in May 2011 at which time Joel was informed the Veterans Administration would no longer cover or authorize any MD Anderson follow-up screenings or testing. Instead the VA said that they would conduct follow-up cancer screenings and testing by Joel’s VA primary care physician Dr. Ghande. Ghande however provided no oncology services and limited his follow-up of Joel’s cancer screenings to blood tests which the VA repeatedly told Joel were OK and he was fine.
In July 2012 Joel was given a Department of Transportation physical where he was cleared to operate/drive 45 foot tractor trailers. Around August 1, 2012 Joel saw his primary care physician Dr. Ghande and was told he was medically okay to drive from his home in central Florida to New York. On August 3, 2012 Joel began driving to New York from his home in Port Orange, FL where his wife and mother-in-law were to fly up the following week to meet him. On the way something happened that VA Doctors could not have missed had they truly done their jobs.
On the drive to New York to visit with his family, Joel who proudly served his Country was found along the side of the highway by law enforcement confused and not sure where he was or how he got there. This was the beginning of the nightmare that could have been avoided had the Veterans Administration simply provided this man with the care that doctors repeatedly told them he needed. After contacting the man’s brother in New York by law enforcement, this proud Veteran was accompanied to his destination. Joel’s wife who had not been notified of what had taken place on the drive up arrived to find her husband displaying symptoms of a stroke or heart attack and was then told of the incident which occurred on his drive up. Joel was taken to a New York hospital for what was thought was a stroke or heart attack (right facial droop, confusion, right hand weakness/tingling). What came next was enough to make even the strongest go weak.
After being examined in a New York hospital Joel and his family were given news that would have made even the most forgiving person angry yet Joel being the man he was, would not spend his days being angry. The New York ER conducted a CT scan of the head which revealed “multiple lesions consistent with metastasis…” as well as abnormal CT scan of the chest with lung mass. Joel’s cancer which he was fighting and was told by the Veterans Administration he was clear of, had spread to not one but five tumors on the brain, to his lungs and more. On August 10, 2012 Joel had gone from being told by Veterans Administration Doctors that he was healthy and okay to drive 1200 miles to a man who was facing five brain tumors, lung cancer on top of a surgically implanted port not working due to a broken wire which the VA never once noticed or noted. The August 10, 2012 report reveals:
Metastasis to brain (198.3) ICD9
Abnormal finding on CT scan (793.99) ICD9
Oropharyngeal carcinoma (146.9) ICD9
Adenocarcinoma, lung (162.9) ICD9
Joel and his wife returned to their home in Port Orange, FL immediately and was seen at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, FL only after his wife refused to be told no by the Veterans Administration. Joel was put through aggressive chemo and radiation therapy at MD Anderson Cancer center starting on September 21, 2012 but not before discovering the port in Joel was not working. Joel had been going to the VA every three months to have the port flushed but was never told anything about a wire in the port being broken. Because of the port wire being broken Joel developed a blood clot in his neck. In addition to undergoing some of the most unpleasant cancer treatments because the VA failed to authorize or provide the follow-up screenings Doctor’s requested, Joel had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the non-working port and to install a new port in the other side.
From August 9, 2012 to October 25, 2012 when Joel was taken out of his pain and home with his maker, the United States Government couldn’t provide this man who served his Country proudly with the very basic follow-up screenings that any doctor worth his weight knows needed to be done under the circumstances. The United States Government and its Veterans Administration couldn’t in more than 18 months conduct a single follow-up cancer screening or test which would have given Joel a chance to live, yet the Department of the Treasury can in just 40 days after his death discover he made an over payment of $0.10 cents which resulted in the printing and mailing of a check for ten cents, all in just 41 days from his passing!
US Treasury Check
Not only did the printing and mailing of this ten cent check cost far more to print and mail than the amount paid to Joel, somehow we can’t help to feel Joel and his family would be willing to let the Government keep the ten cents in exchange for having had a better chance at continuing to live. The Veterans Administration couldn’t in 18 months conduct a single cancer screening or authorize a follow-up with the MD Anderson Cancer Center but the Treasury can spend more to send out a ten cent check than the amount of the check?
This Christmas will be a difficult one for a family who just a few short months ago was living life to its fullest and who let the Veterans Administration rob them of the company and companionship of a husband, father, brother, son in the name of “cost savings.” While Joel is missed and his family and friends draw comfort in the memories of man who would make you laugh hysterically one moment to being the first one there in times of trouble, we will continue to push for answers and accountability from the United States Veterans Administration and Dr. Ghande. As for the ten cent check, well let’s just say Charmin, Northern or Angel Soft it isn’t, but in the true spirit of Joel’s sense of humor Torre might find a use for it.

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