Archive for  December 6th 2017

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IOWA CITY, Iowa  —  The Iowa City VA is accused of breaking federal law, and an Iowa family says it cost them their father and grandfather.

Most hospitals wouldn’t hire a doctor who had been sued a dozen times for malpractice and had his license revoked in another state, but as WQAD’s Chris Minor found, this was not the case in Iowa City.

Rick Hopkins was a loving dad and grandfather. Spry at age 65, he loved his job at a local dairy farm. Rick was an animal lover, and the feeling was mutual.

“There was not an animal that dad ever met that just didn’t adore him,” said Amy McIntire, Rick’s daughter.

Rick was also an Army veteran. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in July, he underwent brain surgery at the Veterans Hospital in Iowa City.

“There was just a cascade of complications, I mean we couldn’t catch our breath because it was one thing after another,” said Amy.

After four brain surgeries in four weeks due to complications at the VA, Rick died.

“We had so much trust in them.”

That trust is now shattered. Rick’s surgery was performed by Dr. John Schneider, a doctor who had racked up at least a dozen malpractice claims over the past 15 years. According to a USA Today report, the VA in Iowa City hired Dr. Schneider, knowing his license had been revoked in Wyoming.

“Now that I read this report, I feel just betrayed,” Amy said.

Federal law bars the VA from hiring doctors whose license has been barred in any state, but Schneider was hired anyway. Amy, a nurse, can’t believe it.

“What I do know is that the VA hired him illegally. He should have never had his hands on my father, and my father’s outcome could have been completely different,” she said.

The VA tells USA Today Schneider’s hiring was greenlighted “due to incorrect guidance” by the agency. Now, Amy and her family want answers.

“Who thought it was okay to make that decision? You know, who thought it was okay to put our veterans’ life at risk by hiring a physician that should have never been hired?”

Four months after her dad’s death, Amy wonders what if, and why a doctor with a bad history is good enough for the VA.

“I am just furious. I can’t express how angry I am,” she said. “I think the VA needs to be held accountable, I think they need to change their practices. Our veterans have done so much for our country, don’t subject them to substandard care.”

Dr. Schneider was hired at the Iowa City VA in April. He resigned last week, instead of being terminated.

Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley have sent letters to the VA demanding answers about its hiring practices.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  With heavy hearts for a fallen classmate, the Dowling Catholic High School basketball team took to the court on Tuesday at Des Moines North High School with a moment of silence and prayer.

“Use it as a reminder not to take life for granted. Just tell the people you know you love them and live life to the fullest,” said senior John Waggoner.

Just hours removed from making one of the biggest decisions in his young life to attend the University of Iowa on a football scholarship, Waggoner, also a Dowling basketball player, said losing Trevor impacted when that decision was made.

“I was planning on announcing sometime yesterday, but I figured it wouldn’t be appropriate and I just wanted to honor Trevor yesterday.”

The life of Trevor Schwager extends far beyond his Dowling Catholic community.

“He didn’t know a stranger.  Everyone was friends with him.”

Morgan Finley, a senior at Woodward-Granger High School, was initially one of those rare strangers–but it didn’t last long.

“Over the summer, I got my car stuck in some mud at Jester Park and he came and pulled me out of the mud,” she said.

The two quickly became best friends. In fact, Morgan was with Trevor the night before he died in a car crash Monday morning along Highway 5.

“The last words he said to me were, ‘I love you Morgan, have a good night.'”

The love Trevor shared is now being made into a bracelet in his memory.

“They say ‘R.I.P. Trev’ and ‘October 5th, 1999 to December 4th, 2017,'” said Finley.

Trevor’s life may have been cut short, but the list of those in need of a bracelet is long and climbing well over 200.  With the help of social media, Morgan’s phone can hardly keep up.

“It’s like every two minutes at least.  It’s crazy, it’s non-stop, there’s never a break,” she said.

Like the bracelet itself, a circle of never-ending support, for a teenager who never took a break lending a hand or a  smile.

“It’s hard just losing someone that’s so close to you. It’s unreal.  You couldn’t be around Trevor without having a smile on your face.”

A memorial will be held at the site of the crash along Highway 5 on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. Dowling students plan to place a cross and flowers at the site, and many plan to carpool for safety.

Visitation services for Trevor will take place on Sunday, December 10th at the Dowling Catholic High School chapel from 4-7 p.m. followed by a scripture service. A funeral is scheduled for Monday, December 11th at 10 a.m. inside the school’s gymnasium.

If you would like to purchase a memorial bracelet, contact Morgan on Facebook or Twitter. All proceeds will go directly to the Schwager family.