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Couple angered by care at Durham VA hospital

Posted September 12, 2014
Updated September 14, 2014

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— A Marine who sought treatment at the Durham VA Medical Center had to go to WakeMed in order to receive a potentially life-saving test that he could have had at the VA hospital.

Jim Carroll says he's angry about the care he received, but counting his blessings nonetheless, because he feels lucky just to be alive.

"I had four total blockages that they say can only be fixed with bypass surgery," Carroll said. "That's been confirmed by my doctor now that I was just a walking time bomb."

About a month ago, he went to the VA hospital and was told he had 100 percent blockage in his heart but that he needed to return in three weeks for more tests.

Three weeks later, he says, he returned only to learn he couldn't get the test because his blood pressure was too high.

It was at that third appointment the doctor scheduled a thorough heart exam for the end of September – three weeks after the appointment.

"I was like, 'Why are they waiting so long?" Kim Carroll said. "I'm angry. I'm angry."

Days later, Carroll's condition worsened, and he was taken to the emergency room.

"When they decided they were going to admit him, they asked us if we wanted to go to the VA, and I said no," Kim Carroll said. "I said, 'We want to go to WakeMed.'"

"The VA needs to step it up," she added. "You shouldn't have to wait for a month for an appointment, and if you're that sick, something should be done right away."

The doctors are now discussing having him undergo quadruple bypass surgery next week and won't let him go home until afterward because his condition is too dangerous.

"I'm blessed now, and I want to continue to be blessed," he said. "The doctors tell me I'll feel like a new man. I look forward to that."

The Durham VA Medical Center did not have a comment Friday.


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