Family of WWII veteran seeking answers about problems with his care
Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A World War II veteran and former Nevada state lawmaker spent his life serving his country and community.
But his family said Dr. Bob Robinson’s last days were filled with excruciating pain after being left outside the Nevada State Veterans Home in the blistering July sun.
His family is devastated so they reached out to Contact 13 back in July several days before Bob passed away. This week they were ready to talk about their loss.
"My grandfather was, was instrumental in teaching me that I can be whatever I wanted to be," said Craig Robinson as he wiped away tears.
Craig’s close bond with his grandfather made the 89-year-old's last days almost too much to bear.
"It was probably, again the worst experience I ever had in my life."
During World War II, Bob survived being buried alive for three hours in an avalanche. But he wouldn’t survive the most painful battle of his life, which began last summer at the Veterans Home in Boulder City.
Bob arrived in March, suffering from Alzheimer’s. And his back was going out from an old war injury.
On July 15, 2013, Bob's wife, Betty, got a call from the home.
"He had been on the patio enjoying the sunshine. And there was a little episode where he just got too warm."
That so-called little episode landed Bob in the hospital where the family said he was treated for second-degree burns on his shoulders, back and right thigh.
The family believes no one on staff knew Bob was stuck outside in the sun.
"He just got so hot that he tried to find his way back in, and in doing so, it tipped over the wheel chair," said Betty.
Betty thinks contact with the cement caused the burns. But surprisingly, she said staff at the home told her Bob was only out there for maybe 15 minutes.
"The people at the hospital said there's no way you can get burns like that in 15 minutes," explained Betty.
Within three weeks, just shy of his 90th birthday, Bob passed away on July 31, 2013.
Cause of death? According to the Certificate of Death "sepsis, cellulites, cutaneous burns" and "prolonged environmental heat exposure" were the primary causes.
The family said it should have been prevented.
"They knew he had a problem with, he would just get up and wander around," said Betty.
In August, the state investigated Bob's case. Contact 13 obtained a report which shows staff knew they needed to watch Bob closely. The state substantiated the "allegation regarding lack of protective supervision" saying "staff failed to prevent" Bob from being "over exposed to the sun and heat."
"I'll never forgive them for that," said Craig.
The Nevada Department of Veterans Services wouldn't go on camera, but sent a 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
Nevada Department of Veterans Services
The family is preparing to file a lawsuit.
"I would like that those that were responsible to be held accountable," said Craig.
Bob's case is not the only problem the State has found at the Nevada State Veterans Home.
Contact 13 will have details of what else the state said has gone wrong and what one lawmaker wants to see changed to improve care.