Witnesses Testify About Retaliation At Phoenix VA Hospital

By Al Macias
Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - 6:55pm

Witnesses told a Congressional hearing Tuesday about demotions, transfers and other forms of retaliation at Veterans Administration hospitals across the country.

They said retaliation against VA employees wasn't unusual.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell is the former medical director of the emergency department at the Phoenix VA hospital. She said senior management put her on administrative leave after she documented suicide trends at the hospital and what she says was the inappropriate response to the deaths.

"In addition they ignored my repeated request for additional resources for the ER and they would never institute the comprehensive standardized nurse triage training in order to prevent future mistakes in care being made in our ER," Mitchell said. "This not to say they were idle however. They did ban me from reporting any cases to the risk management department."

Mitchell said VA employees often had to choose between following orders or be fired.

She also said many veterans faced greater dangers than those on the battlefield.

"Campaigns like D-Day,Iwo Jima, Cho-Sin Reservoir, Tet Offensive and counter offensive, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Croatia, Battle of Falluja, and dismal years in Helmund province. It is a bitter irony that I as a physician could not guarantee their health and safety at a VA within cosmopolitan Phoenix," Mitchell said.