Wichita woman says VA is saving her father’s life

WICHITA, Kansas – KSN has been investigating the VA for months AND asking why it takes so long for some veterans to get into the VA to get care.

Michelle Heershe, asked the same question about her dad, Thomas, this week.

“Well, this is progress,” says Michelle. “This is progress to me. Dad will get his operation, and it’s at a hospital in Oklahoma City. It’s not a VA hospital.”

Michelle says she is also thrilled to hear the U.S. House passed billions more in funding for the VA, nationwide.

“Knowing what I know now about the VA, that money could help save a lot of lives,” says Michelle.

Michelle’s dad, Thomas Chapman, is a Navy Veteran. He had a heart attack about fifteen years ago. Then, he had another.

Recently, he received surgery outside the VA at a Wesley Medical facility.

“The people at the VA said they wanted him there, so he went,” says Michelle. “The doctors at Wesley have been spectacular. I can’t say enough, how caring and helpful they continue to be.”

Michelle said her dad is still in need, and that’s been cause for concern.

“Out of the woods? No. Not by a long shot,” says Michelle. “Dad needs a Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD operation) to stay alive long enough to get a heart transplant.”

Thomas only has about 20-percent heart function. And, Michelle says, he could get the next, special operation at a VA hospital in Salt Lake City. But that would be far, and take time to get in, she says. And it would be far for family to be there for Thomas.

“A few days ago, I was pretty worried,” says Michelle. “They started this process last Friday. They finally got a hold of somebody at the VA the last couple of days. Just not getting real quick response from the Wichita VA, I feel like they could have been more responsive early on. Faxing paperwork was slow to get the process going. I was extremely concerned yesterday that this would have to go to Washington D.C. I was extremely concerned when I got the information yesterday. They had said it’s a process, and it could take time, and we are battling against time.”

But the doctors got together, the approval team pushed it through, and Thomas will soon be on his way to get the operation.

For Michelle, the response time was fast, possibly saving her dad’s life.

“I feel different today. I feel like they really came through,” says Michelle. ” He could live another 25-years if they put the LVAD in. He should get a decent quality of life until he can get a heart transplant.  I really feel like this is a good news story for the VA.”


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