TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The mother of a U.S. Army soldier claims the military sent her son to fight a war at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration hospital without ammunition.
Monte Reinhardt claims her quadriplegic son received substandard care, contracted infections and lived in unsanitary conditions. Her son Army Specialist Robert Bradford was a patient at Haley’s Spinal Cord Injury Center for three years.
“He didn’t really receive top notch care, he really didn’t,” Monte stated.
So earlier this year she fired off a letter to V.A. secretary Robert McDonald complaining of “unsafe staffing levels, no respect for sanitation practices,” pointing out Robert’s gums “are near rotten.”
“When I would brush his teeth, and I would not be rushed, the toothbrush would be bloody,” Monte added.
She wrote McDonald, that Robert contracted “a new infection weekly.”
“He would have a U.T.I.(urinary tract infection) and a couple of times it would get to the point where it was just flat out red,” she explained.
Haley would not provide anyone to speak on camera, but in an email, Haley spokesperson Karen Cross wrote, “There is about a 9 percent nursing vacancy rate in the Spinal Cord Injury Center.”
The hospital she added pays nurses to work overtime to fill shifts and would never put patients at risk. Cross added at the Spinal Cord Injury Center,”infection rates are lower than the national average.”
Three other families who spoke with 8 On Your Side on the condition their names not be disclosed, once their loved ones left Haley, their frequency of infections also dropped.
Robert Bradford arrived at Haley in May 2012. He suffered paralysis from a gunshot wound to the neck. Robert did two tours of duty in Iraq, a third in Afghanistan. It wasn’t an enemy bullet that turned him into a quadriplegic. Suffering invisible wounds from post traumatic stress disorder, he attempted suicide in 2011. By the time he arrived in Tampa, his mother recalls Robert was eating a regular diet, moved about the grounds with his power chair and went on outings everyday. However, his condition deteriorated and in March of this year Monte told V.A. Secretary McDonald, she wanted her son “out of this grave yard.”
In May Robert underwent kidney surgery. Shortly afterward he went into septic shock.
“Your doctors, your nurses and you’re looking at his lab work and you don’t know that he has U.T.I., you don’t know that he’s septic, really?” Monte said.
Robert died two days after surgery. His uniform shirt now hangs on a chair in her apartment. The flag that draped his casket sits on a cabinet beside an urn that contains his ashes. Monte contends Robert received better care while hospitalized in San Antonio, Texas. She wanted him moved to Atlanta, where she claims she had a support system for both Robert and her. She is critical of the Army for moving him to Haley against her will and failing to recognize his post traumatic stress disorder. Now there are only memories, and a message she wants to convey to her son.
“I would tell him that I was sorry that I couldn’t take you home, cause I would have taken care of you way better,” Monte said.