“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
The Phoenix VA Medical Center, which has been short-staffed for the past several years, has begun the process of hiring 1,000 physicians, nurses and clerical workers as part of a new effort to improve the VA system nationwide.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald was in Phoenix today to meet with veterans and VA health providers at his first VA Medical Center visit as secretary.
He said he plans to clean up the VA system, making all 341,000 VA employees accountable and focused on a single mission of serving veterans.
“We’re an unconnected organization,” he said.
As part of the clean-up, the Joint Commission, known for its tough quality inspections at the nation’s hospitals, will conduct an independent review of every VA medical center in the nation, beginning in September.
McDonald also said there should be no retaliation against whistleblowers. He said whistleblowers are crucial to the success of organizational improvement.
Paula Pedene has been experiencing retaliation over the past few years since blowing the whistle on Phoenix VA management since 2011 to expose misappropriation of funds and a hostile work environment under the former director, Gabriel Perez. He retired after an investigation by the Office of Inspector General.
“It’s not whistleblowing,” McDonald said. “It’s improving.”
Pendene lauded the new VA leadership.
“The new VA leaders are working diligently with the office of special counsel on VA whistleblower disclosures and reprisal,” she said. “Continued dialogues will help reveal the outcomes of those efforts. I remain hopeful.”
Angela Gonzales covers health, biotech and education.
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