A U.S. Army veteran had to wait almost two years before seeing a doctor at the Phoenix veterans hospital currently under investigations for allegations of corruption and unnecessary deaths. By that time, the veteran had stage-four prostate cancer.
“I knew I wasn’t feeling well,” said Steve Cooper about his stomach pain to a CBS affiliate in Phoenix. “I felt that I was literally dying.”
Mr. Cooper, who spent 18 years in the military, first went to the Phoenix veterans affairs hospital in January of 2011, but was unable to see an actual doctor until December of 2012.
One year into Mr. Cooper’s ordeal, he was able to see a nurse practitioner, whose digital examination revealed that he had a large and asymmetrical prostate, the station reported. The veteran, who was 41 years old at the time, wasn’t given any further tests until he saw a doctor 11 months later.
“I would be dead if I had stayed with the VA system,” he told the station. He added that he “will never set foot in a Veterans Administration building again as long as I live, with one exception — unless they’re closing those doors, and we’re demolishing those buildings.”
Mr. Cooper told the Phoenix station that within one day of meeting with a private doctor, he had tests he desperately needed completed and was put on a treatment plan.
Mr. Cooper now lives in Las Vegas. This summer he will undergo chemotherapy as a preventative measure to kill any microscopic cancer cells that may still remain in his body, the station reported.
Three officials of the veterans hospital that Mr. Cooper dealt with have been placed on leave while an investigation into its problems is conducted. It is estimated that 40 patients may have died because of delays in care, The Associated Press reported Thursday.