Target 8: VA missed cancer, veteran fights for treatment and life

Investigations

(WFLA) – Veteran Lonnie Kilpatrick waited five excruciating hours Wednesday for the VA to approve diagnostic tests and treatment for his cancer at an outside facility. The authorization did not come.

“He was so weak he had to just lay his head on the table while he was in a wheelchair,” said Lonnie’s wife Sheila Kilpatrick.

A PET scan revealed what he’s up against.

“The only place there’s no cancer is in his liver,” explained Sheila.

Lonnie Kilpatrick is a Navy veteran.On Monday, we told you the VA at Bay Pines discovered cancer in his kidney in 2014.

A surgical procedure followed.

“And the guy told me I was cancer free,” stated Lonnie.

Records show he continued suffering back pain.

The VA treated Lonnie for spinal stenosis and arthritis.

In 2015, he reported “hip pain on both sides.”

In 2016, “right hip is in severe pain,” “something needs to be done.”

In January, the pain was so bad, wife Sheila took Lonnie to a private hospital.

Doctors found the cancer spread throughout his body.

“He said, ‘there was never arthritis in his back, it’s cancer from the very top all the way to the very bottom,'” explained Sheila.

On Tuesday, a day after our story aired, Sheila says a VA doctor called to offer any assistance necessary.

The very next day the VA balked at an MRI and radiation treatment.

“I would think they would be rushing his medicine to him,” said Sheila.

According to Bay Pines spokesman Jason Dangel:

Mr. Kilpatrick received authorization to receive cancer treatment at a community cancer specialist on February 20, 2018. This authorization included chemotherapy services along with any required diagnostic imaging services (i.e. PET scans, CT scans, MRIs). An authorization request for radiation therapy came to us yesterday from the same community provider. The request was approved and Mr. Kilpatrick received radiation therapy the same day along with clinically appropriate diagnostic imaging. All current and future imaging services, to include MRIs, were approved and included with Mr. Kilpatrick’s original community care authorization approved on February 20, 2018. Requests for additional services outside of what has already been authorized for Mr. Kilpatrick must be submitted to VA by the community provider responsible for his ongoing treatment. We will continue to work with Mr. Kilpatrick and his family to ensure he receives appropriate and timely health care services both within the VA and in the community.

Sheila disputes the VA, arguing her husband did not receive any radiation therapy on Wednesday, nor did he get an MRI.

She received word Thursday morning that the authorization for an MRI came through.

Sheila says it’s hard for her watching Lonnie cry in pain, unable to eat, throwing up all the time.

“I just pray that he lives long enough to get the treatment,” explained Sheila. “I told him, I said, ‘you have to fight because we’re fighting and you have to fight.'”

If you have something that you think needs tol be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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