OLD FORGE -- A veteran from Lackawanna County was treated for cancer at a VA hospital in New York City. Earlier this month, he was discharged, brought home, and left on his front porch on a chilly night.
Coast Guard Veteran Michael Keslosky says he was wheeled up to his front porch in Old Forge by that transport driver and left there in his hospital pajamas along with his belongings.
A friend captured the event on video.
That cell phone video shows Keslosky arriving at his apartment in Old Forge around 6 p.m. on March 7 after he was sent home by a VA hospital in New York City.
The VA has a contract with Virgo Medical Services in New Jersey. One of its vans brought Keslosky home.
The video shows the driver helping Keslosky into a plastic chair on his front porch.
He expected to be brought inside.
"All he did was dump me on the porch and left," Keslosky said.
A friend of Keslosky's shot the video because he was concerned about Keslosky's treatment in the VA system.
Another friend, Ron Tucker, lives two doors down and can't forget the image of Keslosky, unable to walk, in hospital pajamas, and holding a catheter bag.
The man suffering from stage four prostate cancer was left to sit outside in mid-50 degree temperatures.
"You don't treat anyone like that, especially in Michael's condition," Tucker said.
"No one should be treated like this. No one. Least of all a veteran," said Keslosky.
Newswatch 16 showed the cell phone video to veterans at VFW chapters in Kingston and Plymouth.
"And to be left there, like a dog on a porch," said Clyde Peters of Plymouth.
Peters is a Vietnam veteran who has ridden with Keslosky on transport buses to and from VA hospitals in New York for treatment.
"There's a man whose frail. He's sick," Peters added. "That is frightening. He just left him there, like why?"
"They should have had a coat on him or something. Not to take him home in his pajamas," said Mark Favata of Kingston.
"I'm mad as hell. That's disgusting. Just leave him there, like nothing's going on," Peters said.
"That's like someone doing that to my father," said Favata.
The president of Virgo Medical Services says the video shows Keslosky so sick, that the VA hospital in Brooklyn should not have sent him home. But Tony Agosto tells Newswatch 16 by phone from New Jersey, no passenger before Keslosky ever complained about the driver.
Agosto added, his company's contract with the VA calls for "door-to-door service. Not door to inside the door service."
Agosto also says the driver offered to take Keslosky inside, but walked back to his van when he says Keslosky refused.
Two men with Keslosky thought the driver was just bringing the wheelchair out to the van and was planning to return to Keslosky's apartment to bring him inside. Then they saw the driver open the van's door and start the engine.
Ron Tucker said he went to the driver and asked why he left Keslosky out in the cold.
"He didn't say anything. He clicked me right off. He picked up his cell phone and he started pushing buttons," Tucker explained.
Keslosky never made it inside the house even though he says he asked. His friend called an ambulance and about 20 minutes later, Keslosky was taken to a hospital in Scranton.
"Prisoners are treated better than I was treated, by being dumped on my porch," Keslosky said.
A VA spokeswoman commented on Michael Keslosky's release from the hospital in Brooklyn and his drop off in Old Forge, saying:
"I cannot go into the details because of patient confidentiality. In this situation, we feel comfortable that we did everything in the best interests of the patient."
Keslosky remains in the hospital.