DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) – Several months ago Gwendolyn Farris, a veteran who had been waiting more than two years for surgery, reached out to CBS46 for help.

After we got involved, the VA approved an outside provider to perform the surgery, but now Farris says a local hospital is standing in her way.

“It was the most devastating news to be turned away like that” Farris said.

Farris was scheduled to undergo the surgery that would help her walk again on June 28. But, shortly after she arrived at DeKalb Medical Center things took a turn for the worst.

Farris said when she when arrived at the hospital for her pre-op appointment hospital officials told her they couldn’t take her because she is a veteran.

But that’s not all. Farris said they explained there’s been a problem with the VA paying hospital bills. Due to the amount of outstanding unpaid bills for veteran’s services, they said they are not taking any more VA patients.

Farris, a 30-year military service Army veteran, tore a ligament in her left ankle in 2007. Since then, she’s been in the care of the VA and said the lack of adequate care has exacerbated her injury. She has developed multiple hematomas, which leave her in constant pain and limit her mobility.

The VA agreed to outsource her surgery. They even found a doctor authorized to provide the care. However, the hospital has the final say, and they have halted the process.

“I feel like I am a victim of this red tape,” Farris said. “It’s getting to a point now where the only person that is affected by all of this is the person that needs the services.”

Until things change, Farris will remain in pain.

“I feel rejected – there is no place for a veteran to go here in Atlanta to get service or help.”

DeKalb Medical Center sent CBS46 the following statement:

"Emory is committed to supporting our veterans and has been actively working with the VA over last several weeks to become part of the VA’s Community Care Network, which went into effect June 6th as part of the recently signed VA Mission Act. The parties are very close to finalizing an agreement that will place Emory providers, including Emory Decatur Hospital, into this VA Community Care Network. Unfortunately, there are new pre-certification requirements that also went into effect on June 6th and a few patients may be inadvertently impacted by the transition. We regret any miscommunication about these new requirements that may have occurred and apologize for any impact they have had on patients. We have reached out to VA representatives about authorizing procedures and surgeries during this interim period while both parties work to finalize the agreement."

The VA said they are unaware of any patients holds.

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(2) comments

Georgia Peach Blue USN

Someone is giving this Veteran WRONG information. Under the Choice Program (the old program) Emory University was to have billed the Veterans Administration Directly for the medical bills associated with the authorized treatment (NOT the veteran). While on June 6, The Mission Act did come into play for NEW contracts, those veterans who were currently under and covered under Choice had a 90 day grace I believe. While there is a delay in the billing, the greatest majority has to do with internal billing with Emory and them not correctly billing the Veterans Administration and them sending the bills directly to the Veterans themselves rather than the VA!. Listen up Emory, when a Veteran tells you that they are a Veteran and that they've been sent there by the VA by Referral, then dig your paperwork out and make sure you bill it correctly and have it, don't harras the veteran. I"ve been seen at Emory in the Neurosurgery, Neurology, Otolaryngology, Nephrology and Endocrinology for over 2 years. I've had MRI's, lab work, spinal taps, and ultrasounds performed. On occasion I get a bill and I call the billing office, when there is an issue,I call my primary care dr to alert them that my VA primary care dr needs to RENEW the consult and it's done. If the Veteran has any questions or needs some help with how to communicate to resolve her billing issues, I'm open to have the veteran to reach out to me...

dcshipman

Those hospital administrators are obvious liars. This patient is not responsible for the VAs bills. The hospital has not notified the VA of any holds. The administrators need to be fired. They are incompetent and dishonest. Start at the top with Dr. Stephens. Chairman: David S. Stephens, MD Executive Assistant to Chairman: Dianne Watson, 404-727-8357 Executive Vice Chair: W. Robert Taylor, MD, PhD Assistant to the Executive Vice Chair: Haylee Fisher Executive Administrator for Academic Affairs & Administration: John Sauer, 404-727-1646 Executive Administrator Clinical Affairs & Administration: Joseph Dee, 404-778-5205

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