ZEPHRYHILLS, Fla. (WFLA) — The widow of a Zephryhills Army Veteran insists medical records contradict a VA claim her husband did not ask for help for chronic pain.
About three weeks after a VA doctor denied Rayford Hill’s request to try an electronic device to soothe his neuropathy, he planned his own funeral and ended his life at the age of 85.
Hill’s widow Shirley told 8 On Your Side the doctor should have approved his request.
“It turned out to be his last appointment,” Hill said. “I think [Ray] thought it was his last chance.”
In response to our questions about the case, James A. Haley VA spokesperson Alicia Burden said in an email Hill did not ask for help with pain at his Sept. 8 appointment.
“Mr. Hill did not request the NeuroLumen Pain Management system, nor did he articulate any pain concerns,” Burden said. “As no pain concerns were expressed by the patient during his appointment, the device was not ordered.”
The NeuroLumen Pain Management system uses a combination of low-level lasers, electronic stimulation and LEDs to combat pain, according to the manufacturer.
Hill said the VA’s statement made her angry.
“It is not believable,” Hill’s widow said. “I have records.”
Hill said the records include progress notes from her husband’s last appointment that state Hill went to the clinic “complaining of pain in both legs and requests NeuroLumen device from VA.”
Shirley Hill’s daughter, Angela Joyner said it was obvious he was in pain.
“You would know he’s in pain,” Joyner said. “A blind man could see he’s in pain.”
Joyner recalled a conversation between her mom and a VA nurse the day after the September appointment. According to Joyner and Hill, the nurse acknowledged Hill’s request for the device was denied.
“Even by the nurse’s comments.’Yes, he’s been in here. They know he’s in pain,’ ” Joyner said. What [the VA] said is not believable.”
Hill said the VA statement implies she and her husband were not telling the truth.
“They want to cover up what they’re not doing for the veterans and it makes me very angry,” Hill said. “It’s almost like they’re calling me a liar. They’ve called my husband a liar. I have it in writing. Black and white from the doctor.”
Hill also pointed out emails to her husband’s doctor from NeuroLumen reminded the physician about Hill’s interest in the device. NeuroLumen’s Kim Davis sent one email the day before the appointment and a second one after the request was denied.
“Mr. Hill would like to use the device,” Davis wrote in the second email. “Many of his fellow veterans are using this for similar diagnoses to include neuropathy.”