Local veteran describes health care delays

, Written by Kyle Aevermann, Posted: Mon, June 9 2014 at 4:34 PM, Updated: Mon, June 9 2014 at 8:45 PM

Medford, Ore -- According to a new audit released Monday by the Department of Veteran Affairs, wait times for Oregon veterans are among some of the longest in the country.

The VA facility in White City had the third longest wait times in the country for specialist care, and 7th longest for veterans seeking mental health care.

In response, Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden called for immediate action.

"The service was really great to me," said Tim, a military veteran, who didn't want to share his last name or have his face shown on camera, experienced delays at the V.A. first hand.

In 2007, Tim had been scheduled to take part in a treadmill test at the Roseburg V.A. Hospital, to monitor his heart but abruptly, it was canceled.

"They called me the day before, Thursday on the second, and said that they didn't have anybody available to administer the dye."

At the time, Tim didn't think anything of it and figured it would be rescheduled. But less than three weeks later, he suffered from chest pain and shortness of breath..

"I almost had a massive heart attack, and I went to the hospital here in Grants Pass, and received medical care," Tim said.

During that visit to Three Rivers Hospital, it was determined Tim had blocked arteries.

The V.A. Hospital in Roseburg told Tim's doctor they couldn't take him, they just didn't have any room. Tim was transferred to Medford where he underwent open heart surgery, undergoing a 5-way bypass.

"It was like a year and a half later, Three Rivers attorney got ahold of me and they filed suit for $60,000 to be paid for their bill," Tim explained.

A bill Tim says he couldn't afford. And because it wasn't at a VA hospital, Tim was responsible for making sure it was paid.

 "My V.A. doctor told me to go to Medford, it's not like I had a choice," Tim said.

He fought the suit himself since he couldn't afford an attorney.

In 2008, a 9-person Josephine County Jury found in his favor, saying Tim never had an agreement to pay for his surgery.

"We need some kind of healthcare system that is more viable," Tim said.

Now 7 years after his heart surgery, Tim's changed the way he uses his V.A. benefits.  Instead preferring to look after his own health, by eating right and making good lifestyle choices, so he doesn't have to go through anything like this again.

NBC 5 News reached out to the VA hospital in Roseburg for comment, but they said because of HIPPA and patient privacy, they could not answer questions.     

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About the Author

Kyle Aevermann

Kyle Aevermann reports weekdays and anchors NBC 5 News Weekends. He joined NBC 5 News in March 2012 as a morning producer and reporter. Prior to joining KOBI, Kyle interned at KISL-FM on Catalina Island, CA. He was also a regular contributor to CNN's citizen journalism program.

Originally from the Chicago-land area, Kyle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to work in the social media industry. Kyle enjoys hiking, traveling, learning about cultures, and has a serious love for food.

Catch Kyle anchoring weekends on NBC 5 News at 6pm and 11pm.

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