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"The VA did him in" Widow says Tucson VA missed gangrene diagnosis

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

"The VA did him in" Widow says Tucson VA missed gangrene diagnosis

By Craig Smith. CREATED Jun 25, 2014

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - A botched diagnosis and treatment too late---that's what a Green Valley woman says happened to her late husband at Tucson's Veterans Affairs hospital.
     
Patricia Rodemeyer says she waited two and half years to talk about her husband's case but stories of poor treatment throughout the VA system prompted her to come forward.
      
Here at 9 On Your Side we have heard from several veterans and their families afraid to go on camera because they fear retribution but Patricia Rodemeyer says she's ready to speak up.
Jim Rodemeyer was a proud Marine.  He fought in some of the most savage battles of the Pacific War.

"My thoughts were Jim survived Peleliu and Okinawa and the VA did him in.”
      
Patricia Rodemeyer says her husband volunteered more than five thousand hours at the VA.
        
But at age 91 he was pre-diabetic, and slipping into Alzheimers.  When he had a dizzy spell, he checked into the Tucson VA hospital.
         
His wife says he fell there.  She says X-rays found no broken bones so the VA treated the discoloration on his leg as a bad bruise. Mrs. Rodemeyer says she thought the problem was much more than a bruise and said so to the medical staff.
        
Seven days later a new doctor recognized gangrene--dead tissue that could spread far enough to kill Jim Rodemeyer, unless surgeons took off that leg.
       
Patricia Rodemeyer says at first surgeons didn't want to amputate because of his health conditions. They feared he would have more falls if Alzheimers made him forget he was missing a leg.

"The last reason was the one that really disturbed me and that was he would become a burden to me; and this is my husband."
She says surgeons agreed to remove the leg but by then gangrene was killing his organs and he chose to let go.

"He said, you know, I've had a good life.  I think I've lived too long.  I just want to go home."
      
Often patient privacy law keeps the VA from commenting on stories like Jim Rodemeyers.  Patricia Rodemeyer is willing to waive patient privacy to hear more of the VA's side.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press