St. Petersburg, FL -- The state filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs last week, partly on behalf of a Largo man who has been struggling with Bay Pines VA Medical Center.
Dale and Debbie Dickerson have been married for 30 years.
Dale -- legally named Roland -- is a retired Veteran and healthy looking on the outside but he has been facing an uphill battle when it comes to his health.
"I'll never be the same,"said Dale.
Dale has a list of medical conditions and turned to Bay Pines VA medical center in St. Pete for treatment. The 60-year-old is part of a lawsuit the state of Florida has filed against the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
In the lawsuit, Dale claims that a bypass surgery in 2012 that he had to get at Tampa General hospital could have been avoided if he would have been diagnosed earlier. In 2010, Dickerson claims he received a heart catheterization at Bay Pines, "supposedly revealing minimum heart blockage."
But later he learned in 2012 that his medical records in 2010 showed a 69% blockage. By the time Dickerson learned this, he had a 90-percent blockage, which led him to his bypass surgery.
"VA healthcare is worse than combat, I'd rather go into combat than a VA hospital," said Debbie.
"I could have had non-intrusive surgery had they acted in time. Now I have to suffer with the pain and the other issues," said Dale.
The Dickersons want to do their part to help fix what many are calling a broken system, so other veterans don't have to fight the same battle.
"I hope to gain a review of all facilities and proactive action be taken to solve all these problems," said Dale. "We could save tons of money and save lives too."
The Dickersons admit that their experiences haven't been all bad and after months of complaining, they explained that Cardiologist Mazhar Afaq, MD came to their rescue and gave Dale the care that he needed.
"Dr. Afaq should be running that hospital," said Debbie.
10 News reached out to Bay Pines VA Hospital. Jason Dangel, a spokesperson for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, issued the following statement on Friday:
"It would inappropriate to comment on the pending litigation between VA and the state of Florida.
"For Veterans that have concerns about their health care, we work very diligently to ensure all issues and concerns are appropriately addressed. Whether that be through our patient advocate office, a Veteran's health care team, or through one of our partner organizations - we strive to ensure all Veterans are satisfied with the care they receive."