Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Oklahoma veteran forced to wait weeks for emergency surgery

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TULSA, Okla. – Martin Potter has served his country and his community.

After getting out of the service, Potter became a Baptist preacher.

“He has raised us to stand up for what we believe in,” said Micki Bryant, Potter’s granddaughter.

Six weeks ago, Potter suffered a stroke and learned that he was in dire need of medical care.

“They said there was an aneurysm on his heart, on the aorta of his heart,” Bryant told KJRH. “If it ruptured, there was nothing that could be done. He would die instantly.”

Despite that diagnosis, he had to wait five weeks to see a specialist and then another week to get the funding approved for his surgery.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says 95 percent of the time, patients are seen within 30 days.

However, representatives say that time can be extended when the care is outsourced, like in Potter’s case.

“They actually spent days, literally days, on the phone trying to get this authorization pushed through,” Bryant said.

“What’s happening is, we’re doing the paperwork first, and making the veteran wait, and it’s a dangerous game we’re playing,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin.

Mullin says he is working to change the process so veterans can receive emergency treatment first and get approval later.

Family members say the hospital was planning to cancel Potter’s surgery because they didn’t have authorization from the VA.

Fortunately, he just received approval and is scheduled for surgery on Aug. 28.

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