By Andrea Eger
March 5, 2017
“We’re all gonna die. Kevin’s gonna die. But it’s gonna be on God’s time – not because you neglected him or failed to do your job!” said Molly Kimbrough.
Molly Kimbrough kisses her brother Kevin Kimbrough goodbye after a visit at the Talihina Veterans Center on Feb. 28. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa WorldKevin Kimbrough survived 13 months of combat in Vietnam and the related post-traumatic stress disorder that plunged him into a dozen years of self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. Between 2013 and early 2015, he even survived a major stroke and the amputations of both of his legs. But two years at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina has left him battered and bruised, and two months ago, on the brink of death.
His sister, who moved halfway across the country to see to his care, has had enough. She’s transferring him to a state veterans home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the patient-to-aide ratio is a fourth of what it is at Talihina.
“I don’t think it’s a Talihina problem,” said a high-ranking staffer. “The system is sick and it starts from the top down.” The individual added: “There are deaths the public isn’t even aware of and there have been a lot more near-misses — lab work not done in a timely fashion or not at all; one nurse having to pass meds to 50 people within one hour of a meal; three aides to feed, toilet and clean 50 patients on a unit. When you spread people that thin, bad things are going to happen. And it’s veterans who are suffering.”This is one of the "horrific deaths"
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Died a ‘horrific’ death
The Tulsa World began its investigation after the Oct. 3 death of Vietnam veteran Owen Reese Peterson, who was found with maggots in his body and later died from sepsis.
State officials have said Peterson needed a morphine pump for pain management but couldn’t get one because the center didn’t have a medical doctor on staff at the time. Insiders say he died a slow, “horrific” death over the course of two months.