Veteran blames cancer on VA delays

WTNH– This is part 2 of the News 8 Investigator’s face to face meeting between some angry vets who say they were wronged by the VA hospital in West Haven and some of the state’s most powerful.

We’re introducing you to another veteran, a woman who says her cancer could have been prevented and a possible explanation for some of those delays at VA hospitals.

“I was angry… and I’m still very angry,” said Joan Lorito.

Joan Lorito feels like her days are numbered. Near constant chemo therapy is standing between her and the end of her life.

“Joan was the face and voice of what we have seen and documented in the VA., the deadly delays,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

She shares her story with Connecticut lawmakers brought together by News 8. After years of frustration, she says she does not trust the VA anymore.

“I had to battle for 14 months for them to do this,” said Lorito.

The care she was requesting for all of that time, she believes could have stopped her from getting ovarian cancer. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she asked them to remove her ovaries. She has a family history, the VA did not do the surgery according to Lorito citing cost.

She tells her story to Senators Blumethal and Murphy and Congresswoman DeLauro and they say they have the answer. Investigations and more money for the VA.

“The legislation that we’re talking about would allow for $500 million to go to the VA for them to hire the doctors and nurses that they need,” said Congresswoman DeLauro.

“Joan’s case ripped throughout the country again and again and again, is the reason I’ve called for a criminal investigation and now there is a criminal investigation because what happened to her is criminal,” said Blumenthal.

“Many times clinics cancel. many, many times clinics cancel… for a plethora of reasons,” said a VA employee.

News 8 sat down with a former employee at the West Haven VA. This employees job was to schedule or cancel scheduled appointments.

“Often times they leave who to cancel which patient to cancel in the hands of … not low level administrative staff… but high level staff who doesn’t know anything about treatment,” said the employee.

The employee, who’s identity we’ve agreed to conceal, describes the process as being handed a stack of patient files and being told to cancel more than a third of them without knowing the details of each case.

Joan says she is one of them. Appointments for her were scheduled and cancelled and now she’s left with a cancer that she believes could have been prevented.

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