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Former VA surgeon speaks out on retaliation claims

Months after Russi talked with KEZI 9 News, he remains firm the VA fired him without a reason last year.

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 6:45 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 9:52 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – A former Eugene VA surgeon says he is still being retaliated against, nearly a year after he was fired for allegations against him that he says are not true.

Rep. Peter DeFazio wrote a letter to the VA Secretary last week, saying the former director of the Roseburg VA told Dr. Scott Russi he was going to send a negative peer review about him to the Oregon State Licensing Board. Russi said he was told this in January, nearly a year after he was fired.

Dr. Russi remains firm the VA fired him without a reason last year.

"Protection should be equal across the board for all employees," said Dr. Russi. "It doesn't matter what your status is. And to selectively apply one rule to a part time versus a full time employee is not acceptable."

SPECIAL REPORT: Eugene VA staff fear retaliation

Dr. Russi said he questioned some of the methods the chief of surgery, Dinesh Ranjun, was operating.

He believes that led management to do a "sham" peer review process that attacked the care he provided in four spate cases which led to his termination. Dr. Russi said he believes he did nothing wrong after six board certified physicians reviewed the cases.

"All of them found that my care met standards and exceeded standard care,” Dr. Russi said.

Last week, both Ranjun and Doug Paxton, the director of the Roseburg VA, stepped down from their positions and were reassigned within the VA healthcare system.

MORE:  DeFazio: Retaliation still happening at Roseburg VA

Dr. Russi said the recent changes are not enough and should be more drastic.

"As long as the executive leadership within the VA chooses not to hold their leaders accountable, there is going to be continued environments out there of retaliation sham peer review," he said.

Dr. Russi said since KEZI’s special report in November, two nurses that spoke in his defense have been fired. He also said there are two ongoing sham peer reviews happening right now.

Dr. Russi believes the Roseburg VA is in transition and has a lot to prove.

"I think they still have a culture of retaliation and a very toxic culture,” Dr. Russi said. “They're demonstrating that even in spite of the investigation.”

KEZI reached out to the Roseburg VA. Shanon Goodwin, a spokesperson with the facility, said the VA did not want to comment on Dr. Russi, Paxton or Ranjun. Goodwin said the Office of the Medical Inspector Investigation is still ongoing and the final report has not been released.

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