Widow: Phoenix VA hastened my husband's death - CBS 5 - KPHO

Widow: Phoenix VA hastened my husband's death

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Barbara Snyder, with her son, Michael, said the Phoenix VA Medical Center hastened her husband's death. (Source: CBS 5 News) Barbara Snyder, with her son, Michael, said the Phoenix VA Medical Center hastened her husband's death. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Barbara Snyder, shown in a photograph with her late husband, Orville Evan Snyder. (Source: Snyder family photo) Barbara Snyder, shown in a photograph with her late husband, Orville Evan Snyder. (Source: Snyder family photo)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Orville Evan Snyder was a Navy Seabee. He was born in Williams and served from 1965-66 in Vietnam.

According to his son, he came in constant contact with Agent Orange.

"He would spray it around the camp. He was sprayed with it in the field. So he had exposure to it the entire time he was there," said son Michael Snyder.

Orville Snyder was married 45 years to his wife, Barbara. Along with Michael, the family lived in Southern California. In 2005, Snyder was initially diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer at the Long Beach VA.

The family returned to Arizona in 2011.

Barbara Snyder says her experience at the Phoenix VA was an about-face from the care they received in Long Beach.

"No one should have gone through what he went through," said widow Barbara Snyder. "It was horrible, horrible. The people there act like you are a number."

"It was torture," added Michael Snyder.

Barbara Snyder believes now if the family had remained in California or had private insurance that her husband would still be alive.

On Thanksgiving 2012, her husband was suffering from atrial fibrillation and larynx cancer.

"He was feeling pretty bad and I said, 'OK, were going to the VA. I'm taking you right now.' And this is where the nightmare started," said Barbara Snyder.

Her husband needed immediate attention. But once they arrived at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, she says he didn't get it.

"And he's in horrible pain, horrible pain. For five hours we're sitting there, sitting, sitting and sitting," she said.

Unable to get treatment, they left and went to John C. Lincoln, where they got in right away.

After three days, their discharge instructions included a list of items for urgent follow-up at the Phoenix VA.

"They bailed on me. They wouldn't take my phone calls or call me back when I left messages," said Barbara Snyder.

Orville Snyder never saw the VA hospital again. The 65-year-old Navy vet died several weeks later in a hospice facility.

"I can't understand why our VA is so much different than the other ones we've been in," said Barbara Snyder.

CBS 5 News reached out to VA for comment.

"Our longstanding policy is to not address specific patient care inquiries out of respect for patients and their families," VA spokesman Scott McRoberts said in a statement.

CBS 5 News asked McRoberts if the Phoenix VA has done anything to reduce Emergency Room wait times. McRoberts sent the following response:

"In order to enhance patient safety, quality of care and capacity, the Phoenix VA Health Care System doubled the size of clinical staffing including nurses and doctors over the last two years. We've also made capital improvements to increase the size of our Emergency Department by 8 exam rooms. In November 2014, we plan to break ground on a brand new state of the art Emergency Department."

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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