ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News is hearing from patients who said they left the Atlanta VA hospital with more problems than they went in with.
Last week, Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray spoke to Dewey Kinsey who said he lost his vision while waiting six months for an eye doctor appointment.
Since then, more people have come forward to talk about the problems they’ve experienced with the Atlanta VA.
They told Gray they left the VA with worse vision than they started with.
These were people who had some of the normal vision complications that come with aging, who after treatments here at the Atlanta VA, are now facing permanent vision loss.
For Desert Storm veteran Sheila Darwin, it’s her left eye that’s the biggest problem.
“You’re like a big blur right now,” Darwin told Gray while he was interviewing her.
Air Force veteran Ronald Chapman, 79, tries to avoid going to public places anymore because he can’t see the people or objects around him.
“Peer through the crack of a fence. That’s what it’s like looking out my left eye,” Chapman said.
Both veterans say they left the Atlanta VA Medical Center with eye problems they did not have when they went there for help.
Darwin’s problem started after her cataract surgery in 2017.
“Something wasn’t right with my left eye. It kept burning. It was red all the time,” Darwin said.
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It was not until she went to the VA emergency room 5 years later that a doctor finally noticed a foreign object in her eye -- they forgot to remove her sutures.
“You took an oath to take care of your patients. How could just leave stitches in somebody’s eye for all these years. And it wasn’t like after the surgery I didn’t come back. I kept coming back,” Darwin said.
Ron Chapman was back to better than 20/20 vision after his cataract surgery.
“I was bragging to everybody how great my vision was,” Chapman said.
But a week later, his vision started to blur.
It took VA doctors seven months to determine it was a heart drug they had prescribed causing him to go blind.
“Had they diagnosed me in just a short period of time, there’s a good possibility I would have had a lot of it returned. But after so long, it’s permanent,” Chapman said.
Both veterans have hired lawyers and filed claims against the VA because both are now facing permanent vision problems.
Chapman’s wife led the fight for his care, but she passed away three years ago.
“I get a little tearful when I think about her and this process of what we go through is unnecessary,” Chapman said.
“We deserve better. We served our country,” Darwin said.
Gray contacted the VA for comment on this story. They sent him a statement, saying:
“Delivering timely, world-class care to Veterans remains our commitment at the Atlanta VA Health Care System. Due to patient privacy, we are unable to discuss the Veterans’ medical information without their authorized written consent. However, we assure you that any time a Veteran, family member or caregiver expresses a medical concern, our heath care team makes it a priority to contact them directly – as the health care team did in these two cases. We are diligently working with these Veterans directly to address any concerns they may continue to have.”
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