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.