Woman Blames VA Hospital For Father's Death - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Woman Blames VA Hospital For Father's Death

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A day after the Norwood VA Medical Center administration apologized for deaths caused by delays, another allegation surfaces against the hospital. Earlier this week, a report surfaced stating that the thousands of vets waited long amounts of time for GI procedures and screenings at the Norwood VA Medical Center. Three people died due to the lack of prompt care.

Now, a family has come forward saying the medical center failed their loved one and now he is dead.

Thomas Hilson's family says until the day he died, Hilson blamed the VA for his demise.  They say VA Doctors failed to refer Hilson to a dentist despite his constant mouth pain. Now, Hilson's daughter says she is speaking up for her father who was silenced by death.

Thomas Hilson's daughter says her father was the picture of health until 2009. "About two months in a row he went to the emergency room every weekend saying his head was hurting and his mouth showing a piece of bone coming out and they would do a cat scan of his head and never his jaw," reflects Leigh Hilson.

But Leigh Hilson says Doctors at the Norwood VA Medical Center wouldn't refer her father to a dentist citing his lack of one hundred percent disability.  "I've got all of his medical records to prove that we went to the emergency room over and over to the Doctor's office over and over and they kept saying sinusitis of nothings wrong with you," explains Hilson.

She says months later, after breaking his hip, Thomas Hilson was diagnosed with stage four mouth cancer.  After hearing about three deaths at the VA due to a delay in GI procedures and screenings, Hilson's family is crying foul over what they consider to be a delay in their father's diagnosis. "That's not the first mistake they made with my father. They let gangrene set in on him. They left gauze inside of him after heart surgery," Hilson adds.

During a news conference on Thursday, Norwood VA Medical Center Director Robert Hamilton issued an apology to families of the veterans who were delayed care for GI procedures. Although those cases are isolated, I asked about other cases where families are faulting the VA Medical Center for a breach in treatment. "We will look at those on an ongoing basis. As information is brought to us there are clinical protocols that will allow for us to conduct peer reviews and so forth of any complaints or concerns that are raised by our veterans," says Hamilton.

Thomas Hilson has been gone for a year, but, family members say his picture and memory of how he died will never fade away.  "He was like it wasn't right that he had to die because they didn't do what they were supposed to do," Hilson says.  

Leigh Hilson says the family is thinking about seeking legal action over their father's delayed treatment.

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