The ambulance attendants instructed Tarrell as he reported "to move his car" away from the bay and wait for help. Tarrell did so and waited for ER personnel to respond. Minutes passed and ER personnel failed to appear, whereupon Terrell again went to the attendants to plead with them to get help for his father. Finally the attendants called the ER and ER personnel appeared with a wheel-chair and brought Lawrence Sinnin into the ER. The time was then about 10:25 AM and Lawrence was non-responsive and not breathing on his own. The CPR team was called at 10:45 and arrived at 10:50. Lawrence Sinnin was declared dead at 11:10. Son Terrell Green requested an autopsy and was led to believe that one would be performed. The VA did not did not follow through and an autopsy was not conducted.
Pathologist Dr. Jon Minarcik believes an autopsy would show that Lawrence Sinnin died of "acute coronary thrombosis," a condition in which timely care makes the difference between life and death. "Minutes count here and rapid medical response can save a patient's life," says Dr. Minarcik. "That's why we have hospitals."
Adding insult to injury the VA took Lawrence Sinnin's corneas, stole his wedding ring and
glasses, and then began to cover up their wrongdoing in a number of ways.
VA executives blamed Terrell Green for his father's death and when that
didn't work the facility manipulated the medical records in an
attempt to exonerate them from wrong-doing.
Additionally, video evidence that
would verify the failure of the facility to treat Lawrence Sinnin in a
fashion disappeared; but this carefully orchestrated cover-up would be
discovered and overturned when Terrell Green recruited help dealing with
Working with veteran advocate Patricia Axelrod -- who chose to act undercover presenting herself as a friend of the family -- Tarrell Green requested and received his father's medical record and found that the record did not accurately or truthfully record the facts of the matter. Specifically the record stated that he had driven with his dying father to the VA from about one hour away from Kenosha, Wisconsin, rather than from Wauken, IL, which is just five minutes away, and also that his father was dead on arrival. Taking note of video cameras surrounding the emergency room, at the valet entrance just one door over from the ER entrance, and also at ambulance bays, Axelrod and Tarrell then filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the matter specifically requesting ER hospital regulations as well as all audio or video film that might have captured the facility's April 28th denial of care of Lawrence Sinnin. The FOIAs were filed July 9th.
July 10, Acting Director of the facility Captain Jose Acosta met with Axelrod and Tarrell Green to say that the subject video had been destroyed. Axelrod replied that she would bring this matter to the attention of the Senate investigative team looking into VA malfeasance, whereupon Director Acosta pleaded with Axelrod and Tarrell Green not to do so. And then a desperate Acosta, his feet to the fire, signed a statement attesting to the destruction of the video and wrote an additional statement to the effect that in the absence of the video he "believed Tarrell Green" regarding the denial of VA appropriate and timely care of his father.
Investigation into the matter of the alleged disappearance of the
video film finds that the facility -- which is a joint Department of Defense and
Veterans' Affairs facility -- utilizes CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) at all entrances and surrounding the
facility and therefore falls under the requirements of Homeland Security for
preservation of CCTV records for six months. This is confirmed by review of
'Privacy Impact Assessment for the DHS CCTV Systems, DHS/ALL/PIA-042, [dated]
July 18, 2012 (page 3, section 1.4., states the requirement preserve CCTV footage). Informed
of this regulation Captain Acosta became visibly shaken and then
declared that he would need to consult with
his attorneys about the regulation. Since then Illinois Congressman
Brad Schneider has entered into the fray to request that the VA
release the film and other documents requested by Terrell Green. The VA
replied it will comply with FOIA law.
Terrell Green is contemplating suing the VA but finds the
process to be onerous at best. For those litigating against the VA are denied the same access
to the court as is routinely available under the US Constitution as litigants are denied trial by
jury. Rather they must submit to a six-month administrative process after which they may come before a federal judge
should they choose to. "The VA fights every case tooth and nail and so cases drag on for years," said Cristobal Bonifaz, a Massachusetts attorney who has sued the VA. Compounding the difficulty
of suing the VA is the restriction of attorneys' fees resulting in payment most
lawyers would consider too little for too much work on behalf of Vietnam veteran,
purple-heart recipient Lawrence Sinnin,
who died like an unloved dog in the parking lot of the VA hospital. Sadly, Lawrence Sinnin became one of the many who fought for America only to die on the VA battlefield.
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