USAF vet speaks out about VA delays and care he didn’t get

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A veteran of the U.S. Air Force reached out to 2 NEWS Investigates saying he would not be alive today if he had left his medical care up to the Dayton VA Medical Center.

Marvin Bentley, of Botkins, said he served in the United States Air Force from 1982-1988, but not until 20 years later did he reach out to the Dayton VA Medical Center for care.  He had lost his job and his health insurance.

Bentley told 2 NEWS Investigates he was on medication for high blood pressure when he called the Dayton VA Medical Center for an appointment.  He said in February 2011 he was notified he’d been accepted into the system, but he didn’t get to see a doctor until August of that year.

“I kind of expected a delay, but I didn’t expect a delay,” Bentley explained.

The dates are documented in a letter he said he hand-delivered to Congressman John Boehner’s office in December of last year.

Earlier this week we reported the results of an audit that showed on average, new enrollees wait about 42 days to see a primary care physician at Dayton’s V-A Medical Center. That’s less than the national average.

Bentley told 2 NEWS Investigates he underwent many tests at the VA.  “The diagnostic results showed I had gallstones, stones in my gallbladder, I had a 17 by 13 centimeter cyst on my left kidney, that I had degenerative back disease, in addition to high blood pressure,” said Bentley.

However, according to Bentley the VA never suggested treatment.

“Basically their response was if it’s not bothering you, don’t worry about it,” shared Bentley.

Bentley said his condition worsened.  He said he ended up in the emergency room at Wilson Memorial Hospital.  It was February 2013 and he didn’t have to rely on the VA.  He says he had obtained other health coverage through a new employer.

Bentley said, “In August of 2011 they said I had a 17 X 13 centimeter cyst, that’s about the size of a 5 X 7 index card. Now in March when they took the cyst out, three and half liters.”

He told 2 NEWS Investigates he’s undergone three surgeries since first reaching out to the VA, all performed outside the VA.

Bentley said he’s only go back to Dayton VA Medical Center as a last resort.

Bentley’s letter to Speaker Boehner was forwarded onto Bentley’s congressman, Jim Jordan.  Jordan was able to get some answers for Bentley, however, they didn’t provide him any peace.

The VA wrote in a response to Bentley’s questions, “We believe this is an isolated instance, primarily related to you being cared for by several providers in primary care and the subsequent lack of continuity of care.  On the other hand, any system of care dependent upon humans is at risk of error.  We strive to learn from isolated cases like this to minimize risk of occurrence elsewhere.  In fact,one opportunity to improve related to your care would be to look at how we notify patients of biopsy results (letters versus phone call) to minimize miscommunications.”

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