U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro is not happy with a response he got from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs regarding his July 28 inquiry into allegations of mismanagement at the Marion VA Medical Center.
The VA gave little indication that it had serious concerns regarding the current leadership or its management of the Marion facility, according to a news release from Rep. Bost on Wednesday.
Bost, a member of the house subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Jack Bergman, chairman of the subcommittee, wrote a letter to David J. Shulkin, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, requesting an investigation into multiple allegations on July 28. Bost said their next step is to request a fact-to-face meeting with Secretary Shulkin as soon as possible.
“The allegations of mismanagement at the Marion medical center are serious, and it is important that the federal government show urgency in getting to the bottom of it,” Bost said. “When word of potential nepotism, employee intimidation and whistleblower-retaliation exist, we can’t afford to leave any stone unturned in either debunking the charges or fixing the problem. Southern Illinois’ heroes deserve swift action on this.”
Bost added that there may nothing to the allegations, but there has to be a full investigation to determine that. Allegations include questions about safety of the VA Community Living Center, organizational culture, bullying toward employees, nepotism and lack of transparency.
“There are too many problems with not only the Marion VA, but with VA facilities around the nation. Not to demonize them, but there needs to be a clear investigation,” Bost said.
He added that many local people are very happy with the care they get at the Marion VA Medical Center.
The VA rates medical facilities in 16 categories of standards. In 2008, the Marion VA received a bad report. By 2014, all but two categories were rated above average.
“All were below average in the most recent report in 2016. That’s when the allegations were brought,” Bost said. “We have to test to see where the facility is falling short.”
Secretary Shulkin thanked Bost for his advocacy for veterans in his response and said he shares the same concerns. Much of the response is not available to the public because of privacy concerns, such as medical records of veterans who died shortly after being discharged from the Community Living Center and employee bullying.
“There are individual names, sensitive personal information and situations that cannot be released,” Bost said.
Bost and Bergman will continue to look into the Marion VA until they get answers.