Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The tragic death of a World War II veteran stemmed from an incident last summer at a state-run home for veterans.
“I believe that if you run a facility and you have somebody die as a result of neglect you should be held accountable,” says Craig Robinson, Dr. Bob Robinson’s grandson.
Bob passed away on July 31, 2013. The 89-year-old didn't die of natural causes.
“The skin was just coming off in sheets,” says Bob’s wife Betty Robinson.
Betty watched her husband deteriorate and die from infections, "cutaneous burns," and "prolonged environmental heat exposure” according to the Certificate of Death.
“He had 2nd degree burns on his legs,” says Betty.
He sustained the burns on July 15th at the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City. State investigators determined staff at the home left Bob outside, "unmonitored, for an extended period of time in extreme heat."
The state investigation found the efforts of Veterans Home staff were, "inadequate in providing protective supervision" to prevent Bob from "being over exposed to the sun and heat."
“Certainly this is an unacceptable, horrendous example of bad treatment,” says Representative Dina Titus.
Though the State Veterans Services Department says they took immediate action, Titus wants more.
“We're going to look into what we can do at the federal level to see how to provide greater federal oversight for all the state contracted nursing homes.”
Contact 13 obtained state reports of 9 citations involving other residents at the Nevada State Veterans Home throughout 2013. Among those:
In February, "the facility failed to take appropriate measures to prevent further instances of abuse by a visitor."
In March, the home "failed to complete a neurological assessment after a fall."
And in May, the state found "the facility failed to ensure" a patient's doctor and family "were notified of a fall."
“Circumstances like this at a Veterans Home are unacceptable,” says Titus.
In late August, as a result of Bob's case and others, Medicare slapped the facility with $20,165.25 in fines and threatened termination from the Medicare program. A federal spokesperson tells us changes were made and the home is no longer in danger of losing its certification.
That's not good enough for the Robinson family. They're preparing to file a lawsuit.
“It's just completely not right. And the lack of empathy or anything to the family from the facility, it was just a bad experience,” says Craig.
Contact 13 has learned the Nevada Attorney General is investigating Bob's case to see whether any criminal charges are warranted. We will be following that and sharing new information as soon as it becomes available.
Governor Sandoval is also following Bob's case. His office sent a statement which says:
"Governor Sandoval is aware of the incident at the Boulder City Veterans Home and is deeply concerned about this tragic loss of life. Policies were not followed and corrective action was immediately taken. While some disciplinary actions have already occurred, the Governor is receiving regular updates and may take additional action to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again."
And the Nevada Department of Veterans Services sent Contact 13 this statement:
"The care and safety of our veterans and their family members is essential to our mission of caring for America's heroes, and situations like this, no matter how isolated, require and have received our immediate and full attention. We have taken immediate action and will continue to do everything in our power to make the Nevada State Veterans Home a place where every veteran receives the finest care available. Because this matter is under investigation we cannot provide any further information at this time."
Charles Pullen, Public Information Officer