Delays in treating injured Valley soldier irk mom
Published July 22nd, 2011
It’s sickening when a hero has to go through hoops to get medical treatment he deserves, said Paula Torres of her son, Army Pfc. Jared Kohn.
Kohn came home on leave earlier this month suffering from severe headaches, nausea, fever and numbness in his neck after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb May 13 in Afghanistan.
The symptoms continued to get worse, and Torres sought medical treatment for her son.
She said emergency-room physicians at St. Joseph Health Center evaluated Kohn and physicians diagnosed him with cephalagia (head pain) and said a CT scan of his head showed an arachnoid cyst. He was discharged with pain and nausea medication and referred for further treatment by Department of Veterans Affairs.
Arachnoid cysts are cerebrospinal fluid-filled sacs that are located between the brain or spinal cord and the arachnoid membrane, one of the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid is the fluid the surrounds and protects the brain from damage, according to the website of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Torres said the doctor said the hospital could not take legal responsibility for treating her son further without a referral from a local primary-care physician, even though his primary-care physician in Germany gave permission.
That’s when she said the trouble began.
“My son was due to fly out today and we were working with time constraints trying to have my son treated so he could return to duty. He did not want to be charged with being absent without leave,” she said.
The situation has been resolved, but it took numerous phone calls from a frantic and angry mother over several days to elected officials and the VA.
First, she said she was told Thursday or Friday by someone at the VA’s Wade Park Medical Center in Cleveland that the VA does not treat active-duty military personnel.
Upset, Torres began calling everybody she could think of: congressmen, Kohn’s commanding officer in Germany, and the newspaper.
It turns out the information she was given by the original Wade Park spokesman was incorrect.
The VA’s policy, according to Ashley Trimble, the Wade Park spokeswoman, is that the VA will treat active-duty personnel as long is it receives pre-approval from Tricare, which provides health insurance for active-duty military people.
After several anxious days, Torres learned Monday from Wade Park that the VA had sought and received approval from Tricare and Kohn is authorized three visits at Wade Park to evaluate his condition.
Also, she received an email from Capt. Michael Frazier, rear detachment commander for the 54th Engineer Battalion, Kohn’s unit, saying that Kohn needs to go to his doctor appointment and see the primary-care provider and based on what the physician finds, a course of action will be determined.
“Be it surgery, return to Bamberg, Germany, for follow-up care/observation, return to duty, etc. Do not worry about a leave extension at this time,” Frazier wrote, relieving Kohn’s concern about being AWOL.
Kohn was to see a primary-care physician Monday. The result of that examination was not known as of press time late Monday.
Kohn, a 2006 graduate of Newton Falls High School, said he and three others people were in the lead vehicle of a caravan when it was hit by a roadside bomb called an improvised explosive device May 13. He said he was the driver, and he hit his helmeted head on the driver-side window.
Kohn, 23, said everyone was nauseous afterward and all were examined by field medics, and given a couple of days off and then returned to duty. He said he was not treated at a hospital.
He said his headaches are getting worse and when he stands up the room spins, and it feels like many tiny hammers are hitting him in the head. The headaches are accompanied by nausea, he said.
“My main goal is to get back to my team, but I need to get better first,” he said.
Torres said she has two sons and a nephew in the Middle East. Her other son, Army Spec. James Kohn is in Kuwait, and a nephew is deployed with the Marine Corps.
“I’m worried. I feel better, but I’m disappointed to have gone through this. He can’t fly until he is re-evaluated,” she said of her son.
“Whatever is decided as far as treatment is concerned, I want it done in the U.S. He has no family in Germany. Our whole family is in Trumbull County. I can’t afford to go to Germany, and I have no passport,” she said.
This article has been re-published. Please click here to go to original article.
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