Representative Takano Addresses Retaliation Against VA Whistleblowers
Washington, DC – Earlier today, Representative Mark Takano sent a letter to Loma Linda VA Medical Center Director Barbara Fallen stressing for the Inland Empire’s local VA administrator to take notice of information related to systemic wait time issues provided by employees and to protect VA whistleblowers.
In the letter the Congressman asks for allegations by VA employees to be taken seriously and highlights how important understanding the facts are for restoring faith in the VA saying, “While I have not heard of any of these actions from your facilities, I am deeply concerned with reports of retaliation against VA employees at other facilities across the country who feel their jobs are being threatened for reporting improper actions at VA medical centers. I encourage you to maintain the integrity of our local VA healthcare system by taking any credible allegations seriously.”
The Veterans Affairs Department has been under fire over the last several weeks as allegations by former employees have led to findings of systemic patient wait time issues. There have also been reports of retaliation by local VA administrators against employee whistleblowers. While no allegations of retaliation have surfaced from the Loma Linda Healthcare System, Mr. Takano identified a need to address the matter.
“Our priority should be on understanding this problem and fixing it,” says Takano. “That process can begin by having transparency and accountability at our VA facilities without retaliation against whistleblowers. Veterans should be able to depend on receiving the medical benefits they have earned and the VA system should be doing all it can to meet its obligations.”
Full text of letter:
Loma Linda Healthcare System
11201 Benton Street
Loma Linda, CA 92357
Dear Ms. Fallen,
While I have not heard of any of these actions from your facilities, I am deeply concerned with reports of retaliation against VA employees at other facilities across the country who feel their jobs are being threatened for reporting improper actions at VA medical centers. I encourage you to maintain the integrity of our local VA healthcare system by taking any credible allegations seriously.
While I appreciate and respect the quality of care most VA employees bring to their jobs, the recent finding of misrepresentation of wait times in VA clinics throughout the nation is unacceptable. As I’m sure you are aware, it appears this has been a pervasive problem for some time.
These findings are unfortunate but fixable. We must ensure veterans have faith they can depend on their health benefits to help them have a good quality of life. We should focus on ensuring veterans can expect some sense of urgency when they seek medical attention.
In order to enhance my understanding of the health care system available to my veteran constituents, I am hoping you will be able to answer the following questions:
1. What is the average wait time for VA beneficiaries to see a doctor?
2. With current patients and new patients, how do you track data related to hospital visits and wait time, specifically for primary care, behavioral health, and specialty care?
3. How does your patient advocacy structure operate?
4. How do people call to reschedule or move up appointments? Do you collect data on the number of rescheduled appointments and the wait times associated with rescheduling patients?
5. How much do you think the shortage of doctors impacts wait times at Loma Linda. What types of care are most affected?
I look forward to hearing from you and working together to ensure our veterans are being cared for.
Member of Congress