Erie Veteran Restores Faith In VA Hospital After Medical Emergen - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Erie Veteran Restores Faith In VA Hospital After Medical Emergency

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ERIE-- "When I found him on the floor, I found him covered in sweat,” Army wife Gail Lehr says. “I was terrified."

"I was out for maybe 5-10 seconds,” Army veteran Charlie Lehr adds. “I was really shaky."

Sweaty and shaky, somehow navy veteran Charlie Lehr ended up on his bedroom floor. He was suffering from a major medical emergency with his heart pumping less 60 beats per minute.  His wife, and son Ryan rushed him to the Erie VA medical center.

Doctors would eventually call an Emergycare ambulance sending him straight to a cardiologist in Pittsburgh.

They'd learn Charlie had an electrical malfunction in his heart. Hours later he'd have a pacemaker implanted into his chest.

"It was the scariest 48 hours of my life," Gail Lehr says.

It was all done in less than 72 hours. He was in on a Wednesday and out on a Friday. The Pittsburgh VA hospital even sent him back to Erie in style.

"They drove me all the way back to my house in a nice black Cadillac," Charlie says.

The Lehr family joins hundreds of families stunned when an audit showed Erie's VA hospital to be one of the worst hospitals in the country when it comes to patient wait times.

It added fuel to the fire for the VA hospital system that is allegedly responsible for thousands of veterans left to die due to malpractice and lack of timely care.

As a former Proctor and Gable CEO and Army veteran himself, Bob McDonald will be tasked with restoring the confidence in an agency that nearly nine million veterans rely on for coverage.

"We need to put care for the veteran at the center of everything that we do in veteran affairs," McDonald explains.

People like Ryan Lehr, Charlie's son, who sustained a spinal injury pre-deployment, he'll likely face surgery in the near future.

"I was getting calls and emails from them before I was actually even out of the service,” Ryan says. “So I could set up appointments and get things started."

"I know there’s only an ex-number of dollars to go around, but these people have earned every penny of it and more," Gail says.
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