Thursday, October 30, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Report: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

By
July 23, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

Medical professionals from coast to coast have pointed out problems at the VA, only to suffer retaliation from supervisors and other high-ranking officials, according to a report Monday by a private government watchdog.

The report compiled by the Project on Government Oversight, a group that conducts its own investigations and works with whistleblowers, is based on comments and complaints filed by nearly 800 current and former VA employees and veterans. Those comments indicate that concerns about the VA go far beyond the long waiting times or falsified appointment records that have received much recent attention, extending to the quality of health care services veterans receive, the report said.

The group set up a website in mid-May for complaints and said it has received allegations of wrongdoing from 35 states and the District of Columbia.

“A recurring and fundamental theme has become clear: VA employees across the country fear they will face repercussions if they dare to raise a dissenting voice,” said Danielle Brian, the group’s executive director. “Until we eliminate the culture of intimidation and climate of fear, no reforms will be able to turn this broken agency around.”

The report from the group, known as POGO, came a day before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was to hold a hearing on the nomination of Robert McDonald to be VA secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, McDonald would replace acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, who took over May 30 after Eric Shinseki resigned amid a growing uproar over treatment delays and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.

A federal investigative agency says it is examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the VA against employees who filed whistleblower complaints. The independent Office of Special Counsel said 30 of the complaints about retaliation have passed the initial review stage and are being further investigated for corrective action and possible discipline against VA supervisors and other executives.

Monday’s private report details the case of Stuart Kallio, an inpatient pharmacy technician supervisor at the Palo Alto VA Health Care System who complained to superiors about what he described as incompetent, uncaring management and inefficiencies in delivering medicine to patients.

The pharmacy service had steadily deteriorated to the point that it was “in a perpetual state of failure, failing to provide timely, quality care to veterans,” Kallio said in a Feb. 26 email to supervisors. He addressed his criticisms up the chain of command as far as Elizabeth Joyce Freeman, director of the Palo Alto VA Health Care System.

On April 7, the chief of the pharmacy service sent Kallio a letter threatening to suspend him for sending emails “that contained disrespectful and inappropriate statements about your service chief” and others at the hospital, including leadership of the Palo Alto VA, the POGO report said. Kallio defended himself in a letter to superiors detailing hospital records that showed patients suffering from “missed doses, late doses, wrong doses” of medication. He was suspended for two weeks in June.

On June 20, the day before his suspension was to end, Freeman placed Kallio on paid leave pending an investigation. Another VA official ordered Kallio not to discuss the case outside the VA, the report said.

This month, Freeman became interim director of the VA’s troubled Southwest Health Care Network based in Arizona. The former director there retired after reports this spring that dozens of patients have died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix VA hospital.

POGO’s Brian said an order attempting to gag Kallio, coupled with expansion of Freeman’s responsibilities, “seem directly at odds” with a message Acting VA Secretary Gibson has repeated in recent weeks emphasizing the importance of whistleblower protection.

A spokesman for Gibson said Monday that the VA thanks POGO “for bringing these important claims to light.” The spokesman, Drew Brookie, encouraged the group to provide relevant information to the VA’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Special Counsel “so there can be appropriate follow-up.”

The VA’s acting inspector general, Richard Griffin, has issued a subpoena demanding that POGO turn over a list of whistleblowers who filed complaints through its website, which is operated jointly with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The groups have refused, saying release of the names would violate the promise they made to whistleblowers.

Griffin’s office said last week it is investigating possible wrongdoing at 87 VA medical facilities nationwide, up from 69 last month.

Thomas Tomasco, a doctor who worked at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in Pennsylvania, told POGO he quit his job “under duress” after he raised concerns about the hospital’s on-call policy. He complained that on-call physicians were refusing to come to the hospital in emergencies; instead they provided telephone consultations, which Tomasco said delayed care to patients requiring immediate assistance.

After filing the complaint in 2012, Tomasco was suspended for a day without pay – an action that was overturned – and later was removed from clinical service. He eventually quit, saying he was “treated like a pariah with no justification.”

Gibson is to address the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday in St. Louis. Vice President Joe Biden told the convention on Monday that the country has learned there are “many, many” things that must be done to fix the VA.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Home: Some things never change

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

Council continues hearing on liquor sales request

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Victim of Tuesday traffic incident dies

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Holiday boutique set for weekend

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Live Your Dream award applications due Nov. 15

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
Transportation Info Depot opens Monday in Suisun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Salvation Army set to host Kroc Fest

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Deadline looms for vote-by-mail ballots

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
.

US / World

California orders risk-based Ebola quarantine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Maine can’t hold Ebola nurse without judge’s order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Pentagon orders 21-day Ebola quarantine for troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US health care unprepared for Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Suge Knight, Katt Williams charged with robbery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Military jet crashes in California, killing pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Army blows up houses, Egyptians evacuate near Gaza

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Peshmerga troops cheered by fellow Kurds in Turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

New York, New Jersey look back 2 years after Sandy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Al-Qaida: IS should rejoin group and fight West

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Bill Clinton says voting is cure for polarization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Lava 100 feet from Hawaii home, nearing main road

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Man decapitates mother, is killed by train

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Opinion

We’ve got to stop meeting like this

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Davenport, Pal, Spering best choices for vote

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Measure A helps students

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

Jane Day for council: She cares

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Do you trust Spering?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

Support for Spering, Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Measure A a simple choice

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

Mraz is desperate

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

 
Vote for Moy; Vote for Fairfield

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Time for something new: Integrity

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Supports Timm for Fairfield council

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Measure A a wise investment

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Spering record not set straight

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
In support of Brian Thiemer

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Debate was eye-opening

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Vote for Catherine Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Tonnesen right choice for City Council

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Vote for Tonnesen

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Learn to say no

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Support for Bertani

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Proposition 47 fails to advance state

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Mraz not best officer for council post

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Moy is the leader we need

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A10

 
My sister won’t talk to any of us, I’m worried about my nephew

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A10

.

Entertainment

‘House of Cards’ actress Norment dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Orson Welles’ last film may finally be released

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Taylor Swift talks books and music with kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Sports

Royals’ dream season falls short in World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Bumgarner, Giants beat KC to win World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Bumgarner, Giants beat KC 3-2 in Series Game 7

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Selig’s imprint seen in Game 7 of World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants fans revel in victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Giants ace Bumgarner wins World Series MVP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors whip Kings 95-77 in season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jose Canseco resting at home after shooting hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sacramento breaks ground on new Kings arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

It’s Thursday Night Lights for SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B2

 
49ers rookie center Marcus Martin to make NFL debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Stanford men looking to build on NCAA tournament run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carr prepares for tough test vs. Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Vanden’s McDaniel repeats as SCAC singles champion

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

Gov’t pushes air bag maker on replacement parts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Fed ends bond buying and cites brighter job market

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Obituaries

Hardie Lee Doshier

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Howard Lenowsky

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert Louis Wright

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10