CNN's Drew Griffin: VA Should 'Fire Every Senior Manager'

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 07:12 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The CNN reporter who first reported on the deadly delays in care at Veterans Administration hospitals says the beleaguered agency "can't fix itself" and should "fire every senior manager."

Correspondent Drew Griffin, speaking Monday on a new report about whistleblowers coming forward to reveal appalling lapses and being ignored by the VA bureaucracy – including one instance of a mentally ill vet who first went to the VA in 2003 but wasn't evaluated until 2011 – shows the system is broken.

"Based on everything I know to date, I don't think the VA can fix itself," Griffin said in the interview, posted on Mediaite.

"I don't know how you fix this, I really don’t know. If I was going to give advice, where I would give it, other than I would blanketly throw out every senior manager in the VA.

"I know that sounds harsh, but I don't know how else you would do this surgically. There is an entire bureaucracy here that has been allowing this to happen for years and years and years, and I dont know how you get one administrator at the top who’s going to somehow change the culture without throwing out all these people."

During the interview, Griffin summarized the conclusion of a shocking report issued by the Office of the Special Counsel – which protects whistleblowers – as, "We do not believe the VA. We do not believe the VA is investigating. We do not believe that they can get to the bottom of these issues."

He said the Special Counsel found "10 different cases across the country, specific examples where they believe a whistleblower came forward, veterans were harmed, nothing happened."

In a separate interview on CNN, Griffin elaborated on the lack of care outlined in a letter and report by the Office of Special Counsel.

For example, he said that at a Brockton, Mass., VA facility, another vet had only one psychiatric note in his entire medical chart over seven years as an inpatient. Yet the VA's medical review agency "denied that . . . (it) had any impact on patient care," CNN reported.

Story continues below video.

CNN said the agency is investigating more than 50 whistleblower disclosures involving patient health or safety allegations at the VA nationwide, and, according to the report, "these cases represent more than a quarter of all matters referred by OSC for investigation government-wide."

Sloan Gibson, the VA's acting director, told CNN in a statement: "I respect and welcome the letter and the insights from the Office of Special Counsel. I am deeply disappointed not only in the substantiation of allegations raised by whistleblowers, but also in the failures within VA to take whistleblower complaints seriously."

He told CNN he'd directed a "comprehensive review of all aspects of the Office of Medical Inspector's operation, to be completed within 14 days."

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