WASHINGTON (KMOX) – One of the original VA whistleblowers from St. Louis testified before the Veterans Affairs Committee last night.
Former Head of Psychiatry at the John Cochran Medical Center Dr. Jose Mathews said he personally reviewed veterans complaints about not being seen in a timely manner.
He says their complaints prompted him to ask the basic question: “How busy are we at the outpatient clinic?”
“The answer I got was not very good,” he told the committee. “The psychiatrists were only spending approximately 3.5 hours in direct patient care. I could not account for the rest of their time.”
He said the atmosphere was like a “hurried conveyer-belt system.”
Dr. Mathews said he was told he was spending too much time with the veterans and that he should “hurry up and just check a few boxes in my evaluation.”
He also said that two weeks ago, he was called into a meeting with the chief of staff and told that “the chain of command must be respected at all time.”
Mathews is filing a complaint that he was punished by the VA for being a whistleblower. He’s alleging the John Cochran medical center retaliated against him for going public with his story, by relegating him to lesser duties, preventing him from accessing patient files and even putting him the basement.
His attorney Ariel Solomon says that exposes the VA to liability.
“What happens is, to the extent that a complainant successfully brings and litigates a whistleblower complaint, they’re entitled to damages, the agency official that retaliated against the complainant may even be personally disciplined,” she says.
Solomon says the Office of Special Counsel has agreed to investigate.
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