Siouxland cancer survivor touts treatment from the VA - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland cancer survivor touts treatment from the VA

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - Larry Legg got good news from his doctor at the VA clinic in Sioux City, recently.

“So far, the tests have all been really good,” said Legg.

He was diagnosed with stage 3b colon cancer in November of 2011, months after flood waters forced him out of his Jackson, Nebraska home. After a test in Sioux City found the cancer, he was immediately sent to the Veterans Administration hospital in Sioux Falls.

"There's no waiting list,” he answers when asked if he was put on a waiting list.

The VA granted Legg permission to have the surgery five days after he was diagnosed.

"If it would have been delayed, even a couple weeks, the survival rate would have been questionable,” Legg added.

Stories of compromised care have plagued the VA worrying patients, politicians and the providers themselves.

“Where they come up with where the problem is, we're all waiting to see that,” said Dave Sly, the Chief of Community-based Outreach Clinics overseeing clinics in Northwest Iowa and South Dakota, and the hospital in Sioux Falls.

Because of an aging veteran population, staff at the Sioux City clinic has grown over the past five years, from a nine-member medical team to 30, serving 3,500 veterans in the area.

“Here in Sioux City and in Sioux Falls it is truly our mission that our veterans are receiving the timely care, and the quality and safe care that they need,” explained Sly.

The VA in Sioux Falls allowed Legg to have his colon cancer surgery performed at a Sioux City hospital, which Sly says helps speed-up time-sensitive medical treatments. The clinic also incorporates telemedicine or virtual check-ups to get patients treated quickly. They hope the negative news in other states doesn't discourage Siouxland patients from seeking their services.

"Does the publicity really makes us on our toes? It does, but at the end of the day, things will sort out, and hopefully the formula that we're doing in Sioux City will be a testament to our care,” explained Dr. Ahsan Khan, who treats Legg.

Legg is now cancer free, but dealing with some of the side-effects of the chemotherapy. Tests bring him back to the Sioux City clinic and the Sioux Falls hospital.

“Appointments are right on time. Usually, they're ahead of schedule. Very seldom have I had to wait more than two minutes,” said Legg.

As for the care itself, “When they're providing services for you they do a very good job,” added Legg.

"They put their lives on the line for us and it's a pleasure to be able to come in and serve our veterans which are our nation's heroes. This is our mission for them. They've provided a mission for us,” said Sly.

Congress is considering giving the VA $500-million to hire staff and allow veterans to seek treatment outside the VA, like Legg did.

That bill would also fund new a new health facility in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It authorizes the VA to lease 26 new walk-in health clinics in 18 states.  U.S. Senator Mike Johanns' office says the bill would authorize about $7 million for the Lincoln location.

Doctor Sly said extra resources would be great to have, but they are able to meet the needs of veterans in the region with the resources they have right now.

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