- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

BONANZA, Ore. (AP) - After the death of her husband late last year, Kaye Cory has one goal: making sure what she went through does not happen to other families.

Cory’s husband, Lyle Cory, was a U.S Army veteran who served in Korea during the Vietnam War. Lyle received a stress test Sept. 22, 2014, that identified severe problems with his heart.

Kaye Cory said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs scheduled a cardiac catheterization procedure for Nov. 17 in Portland. When the couple, who had been married 45 years, visited the clinic in October for Lyle’s unrelated neck pains, their appointment was canceled due to the heart issues.

“I was really careful with him, he didn’t do anything.” Cory said of her husband. “I was scared to death, yet we both assumed that it couldn’t be that bad, because if it was that bad he would have already been put in the hospital.”

The Corys were childhood sweethearts who grew up in Lake County, around the Lakeview area. Kaye Cory currently runs a small salon in Bonanza, where a framed photo of Lyle sits prominently on the counter.

They have two children and four grandchildren, with a fifth on the way.

On Nov. 2, Lyle started having chest pains and was admitted to Sky Lakes Medical Center. Once admitted, the hospital had to wait three days for authorization from the VA for the insurance payment.

Lyle Cory died Nov. 4 on the operating table. He was 65.

“We were waiting for them (the VA),” Kaye Cory said. “Who’s to say he might not have lived?”

After Lyle passed, Cory said she started questioning why her husband was not brought in sooner for the cardiac catheterization, why the VA took so long to authorize the insurance payment and why the whole process was not outsourced to a medical facility with more open slots.

“We’re 300 miles from a (full VA) facility, we got to do better than that for our veterans,” Cory said. “Hindsight tells me I would have paid anything to get a different kind of insurance.”

“Federal privacy rules and our commitment to protect patient information prevent us from publicly discussing specifics related to the care provided to Mr. Cory while he was at Sky Lakes,” said hospital spokesman Tom Hottman.

“All of us at Sky Lakes extend our sympathies to Mr. Cory’s family and we share the family’s great frustration with the tangle of bureaucracy associated with the Veteran’s Administration and its processes for patients,” Hottman said in a statement. “We support their efforts to improve the VA system.

“We would like to clarify one point to prevent any misperception: The healthcare providers at Sky Lakes Medical Center treat patients in emergency situations regardless of their ability to pay, and we do not delay care to patients who arrive with emergent conditions regardless of their insurance source,” Hottman said

Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams said he was contacted by Cory about the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. He, in turn, contacted U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

“It’s very obvious the entire Veterans Affairs department has a variety of ongoing problems,” Mallams said.

The commissioner added that it should have been a “no-brainer” for Sky Lakes or another hospital to perform Lyle’s procedure rather than waiting two months. He said the delay in insurance authorization is also unacceptable.

“You can’t wait on some of these services like this,” he said. “We’re all united in this effort to get things changed.”

Andrew Malcolm, press secretary for Walden, said the congressman has asked the VA to open an investigation into Lyle’s death. Malcolm said Walden’s offices received calls from both Cory and Mallams on the issue.

The results from that investigation are still pending, with no word on the exact timeline for completion.

“Greg certainly believes that veterans should have the highest quality care possible,” Malcolm said.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., recently spoke at a town hall forum in Klamath Falls. At that event, Cory stood up and talked about her concerns regarding the VA.

Wyden promised his office would look into the issue and work on collecting resources for veterans and their families.

According to Daniel Herrigstad, public affairs officer for the VA Portland Health Care System, the federal agency cannot confirm when an investigation is active due to privacy concerns.

Herrigstad did confirm a review is conducted whenever a veteran under the VA’s care dies. According to a letter from Joanne Krumberger to Rep. Walden (of which Cory received a copy), a quality review was ordered for the care Lyle Cory received.

“When there are specific actions that need to be taken from the outcome of the review, whether it is quality, disciplinary, system or policy change, it is elevated to appropriate leadership to ensure all actions are followed up,” Herrigstad wrote in an email.

He noted the results of the review are disclosed to the veteran’s family. Policy changes are “absolutely” possible as the result of a review, according to Herrigstad.

Kaye Cory is still dealing with breakdowns in the VA’s system, however. Last week, she got a voicemail message confirming a follow-up appointment for Lyle, months after his death.

She said she tried to reach the VA to make sure all appointment slots scheduled for Lyle were freed up for other veterans, but those messages seemed to have been lost in the mix.

In addition to reaching out to her representatives, Cory said she’s sent her story to Fox News programs to raise awareness about what happened to Lyle.

“My goal is never to get any money but to go through this for someone else so they don’t have to do this,” Cory said.

___

Information from: Herald and News, http://www.heraldandnews.com

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