Family says veteran died after delayed care at Phoenix VA Hospital

PHOENIX - A vValley family says they’re angry because they were robbed of time with their own father.

They said 71-year-old Thomas Breen, a navy veteran, was denied care at the Phoenix VA hospital.

They said the help came too late.

This comes after the Phoenix VA Health Care System continues to come under fire for reports of neglect and mismanagement that may have led to the death of up to 40 veterans.

And the place Breen trusted the most with his care let him down in the worst possible way.

“He's 'I got to go to the VA, that's where the servicemen go,'” said his son Teddy Barnes-Breen.

Teddy and sally Barnes-Breen first took Thomas to the VA hospital after he started urinating blood.

They say doctors didn't do any tests or tell them what was wrong. They let the veteran, with a history of cancer and just one leg go home.

“So they sent him home, and we waited and waited and waited. She made phone calls, my pops made phone calls,” Teddy Barnes-Breen said.

That was September 28th of last year.

They say the VA didn't give them a call until November-- telling them it would be several months until they could fit him in for an appointment.

“I said, ‘no, no, you have to look at the record, it says urgency, a week.’ She said, 'you have to have patience.' I just hung up the phone,” Sally Barnes-Breen said.

On November 11th his condition got so bad, Thomas's family had to call 911. He was rushed to a hospital not a part of the VA system.

When he returned, he received hospice care.

Two weeks later, Thomas died. Then they found this out from his hospice caretakers that he died of bladder cancer.  

They say six days after Thomas passed away, the VA hospital called.

“The screams were coming out, I’m numb now. I don’t even know why they called,” Sally Barnes-Breen said.

Now the “what if's” are piling up.

“What if it was cancer at that moment we brought him there? What if they could've saw him and prolonged his life?" Sally said.

“Maybe he could've made Christmas and New Years,” Teddy said

The Barnes-Breens say after the reports of neglect came out they confirmed their worst fears.

They now believe they were not the only family struggling with delayed care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

Their family has hired an attorney and is considering taking legal action.

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