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VA medical inspector retires after scathing report

By Matthew Daly

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:17 p.m. HST, Jul 02, 2014

WASHINGTON » The chief medical inspector for the Department of Veterans Affairs has retired, following a report that his office downplayed whistleblower complaints outlining serious problems at VA facilities across the country, acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said Wednesday.

Dr. John R. Pierce had served as medical inspector since 2004 and was deputy medical inspector for two years before that.

Pierce's office came under scrutiny last week, after the independent Office of Special Counsel issued a scathing report that identified "a troubling pattern of deficient patient care" at VA facilities around the country. The problems were pointed out by whistleblowers but downplayed by the medical inspector and other top officials, the report said.

Gibson met with Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner Tuesday and reaffirmed his commitment to prevent retaliation against employees who identify or report problems.

In a June 23 letter to President Barack Obama, Lerner cited canceled appointments with no follow up, drinking water that had been contaminated with the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease and improper handling of surgical equipment and supplies. One veteran was admitted to a long-term mental health facility but didn't get a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation for eight years, Lerner said.

Gibson said last week he was deeply disappointed by the allegations and vowed a quick response. A departmental review of the special counsel's report is due by July 7.

Pierce is one of a half-dozen high-ranking officials who have resigned or retired from the VA following a national outcry over reports of patient deaths, widespread treatment delays and falsified records at VA facilities nationwide. The outcry led to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation in late May. Since then, several other officials have resigned, including the agency's top health official and the man who replaced him as acting undersecretary for health. A third man who had been nominated by Obama for the top health job withdrew.

The agency's general counsel and assistant secretary for congressional and legislative affairs also have left in recent weeks.

On Monday, Obama nominated former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to be VA secretary, saying his experience managing one of the world's most recognizable companies would help McDonald "deliver better results" at the VA.

Gibson said Wednesday that Leigh Bradley will join VA temporarily as his special counsel. Bradley is a former VA general counsel and currently serves as director of the Defense Department's Standards of Conduct Office, where she is responsible for the Pentagon's ethics program.

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Skyler wrote:
Nothing like a good shaking to remove bad fruit from a tree. Here's hoping whoever takes their places does a much better job. Our Veterans deserve it.
on July 2,2014 | 09:59PM
meat wrote:
Yet ANOTHER government official who should be FIRED retires with tax dollar pension. How sickening.
on July 2,2014 | 10:08PM
nitpikker wrote:
yes! fired, not allowed to retire!
on July 3,2014 | 02:35AM
nitpikker wrote:
AND they should give back whatever BONUSES they received.
on July 3,2014 | 09:37AM
inlanikai wrote:
When the going gets tough the weak get going. Buh-bye.
on July 3,2014 | 02:10AM
false wrote:
Good news! Now a review of the job performances of the judges/lawyers of the Board of Appeal and those that adjudicate claims should be done. Their lack of following precedence in determining claims makes a mockery of the system. House cleaning starts at the top and will work itself down and eventually the VA culture will change, but it won't be fast enough.
on July 3,2014 | 07:55AM
fiveo wrote:
Yes, all these people should have been fired. Even if fired, if they have sufficient service time, they would still be eligible for their pension. When there is no real penalty for not doing their job, no reason why the person that replaces them will perform any better. Firings and criminal prosecutions is what is needed.
on July 3,2014 | 09:39AM
Bully wrote:
These people are like a cancer throughout government. They are given an impossible job and the blame that goes along with it. All they do is try to see how long they can last before they retire or are forced to retire. The next guy up is no different.
on July 3,2014 | 09:59AM
Anonymous wrote:
Oops sent for approval for suggesting anti-union comments and term limits.
on July 3,2014 | 12:07PM
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