Report: Roseburg VA trying to restore trust after 'toxic work culture'

The Office of Inspector General conducted a review after allegations from former and current VA staff.

Posted: Sep. 18, 2018 7:54 PM
Updated: Sep. 18, 2018 8:07 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. – The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has released a report on its review of the Roseburg VA after accusations of retaliation against employees and concerns about patient care.

The report, which was compiled after an unannounced visit in March 2018, found the new leadership team at the VA is trying to restore a culture of trust, as well as improve employee and patient satisfaction and quality of care.

Inspectors found no substantial organizational risk factors at the VA, according to the report, but found certain areas that need work to improve the hospital’s one-star rating.

In November 2017, KEZI 9 News spoke with a former surgeon at the Eugene VA clinic, which is part of the Roseburg VA Healthcare System, who said he was fired for bringing up concerns about patient care.

SPECIAL REPORT: Eugene VA staff fear retaliation

Five nurses also spoke with KEZI at the time, saying mismanagement, retaliation and bullying were common at the Roseburg and Eugene clinics.

Doug Paxton resigned as VA director in February 2018 along with other leadership staff after the allegations came to light.

The Inspector General report acknowledges “concerns related to ineffective leadership, toxic work culture, questionable personnel practices and alleged inappropriate hospital admission practices to improve performance ratings.”

In January 2018, a New York Times report claimed the hospital limited the number of patients it admitted in order to boost its quality of care rating. At the time, a spokesperson for the Roseburg VA called the story “false.”

READ MORE: Roseburg VA responds to negative report on patient care

As for patient care, the report found concerns at the VA related to pain medication shortages, authorizing patient services to certain providers and communication between medical staff and logistics.

In an email to Roseburg VA staff, Interim Director David Whitmer said all of these concerns have been addressed and corrected. He said there will soon be a review of the hospital by the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies healthcare organizations in the U.S.

Whitmer also said he is preparing to transition back to his position in Florida and hire a new, permanent VA director, with interviews happening next week.

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