Family of man who died after surgeries at the Iowa City VA Hospital want answers

LE CLAIRE, Ia. (KWQC) - Richard Hopkins was a normal man. He worked as a farmhand, wore overalls, and was incredibly smart. He was also a veteran, serving the United States Army from 1971-1973 in Germany as a tank mechanic.

Earlier this year, he went to the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Hospital for a MRI. They found a brain tumor. It was benign but surgery was needed. Following surgery, he spent a month in the ICU. Many complications led to an infection covering his entire brain. It was after doctors told his family there was no treatment available, they took him off the ventilator. Hopkins died on August 23rd, 2017. In the coming months, his family’s lives would change.

A recent USA Today report showed VA hospitals across the country hired doctors with previous malpractice lawsuits against them. That included the Iowa City VA Hospital and one of their doctors; Dr. John Henry Schneider.

The same doctor who did Hopkins’ surgery.

TV-6 began an investigation after the USA Today report was published. TV-6 confirmed Dr. John Henry Schneider was employed at the Iowa City VA Hospital from late April of this year until November 29th, when he resigned in lieu of termination.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Press Secretary, Curtis Cashour, sent TV-6 this statement:

“Upon review of Dr. Schneider’s case, we found his hiring was inconsistent with applicable law, as a result of incorrect internal VA guidance received during his hiring process.

As a result, he resigned from VA in lieu of termination November 29.

All of the employees mentioned in the story no longer work for VA. We are also looking into whether other doctors in the VA system may have been hired improperly as a result of the same incorrect internal VA guidance, and we will take prompt removal action with any improper hires we discover.”

When Hopkins’ family found out the results of USA Today’s investigation they were floored.

“I wondered how'd this guy get into a hospital for our veterans. Somebody hired him. They knew what was going on and yet they still hired him,” said Autumn Hopkins, his daughter.

The family says they’re unsure whether they can trust the VA will do what the statement says.

“Yeah I can't say their track record has been great about being forthcoming with what they're doing. So I can't say I necessarily believe that they're taking the steps that they say they are,” says Amy McIntre, Richard Hopkins’ daughter.

Richard’s two sisters say they want this report to go nationwide. The whole family hopes the VA doesn’t sweep this under the rug. In the meantime, the family is unsure what their next steps are. At this time, they have not filed any lawsuits against Dr. Schneider or the VA.