Phoenix, AZ — Another whistleblower at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alleges he was retaliated against for reporting that patients were dying while waiting for care due to backlogs and mismanagement at the Phoenix facility.
Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez, chief of Specialty Care Clinics at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, claims that a former director of the Phoenix VA tried to remove him from his position and halted his planned promotion after he first blew the whistle and reported allegations to Congress in 2015. Since, he says that he has faced harassment by management at the highest levels, kept from meetings, had duties removed, due to his whistleblower status.
Rodriguez is not the first VA whistleblower to claim being retaliated against in Phoenix. Brandon Coleman, a former addiction therapist at the Phoenix VA, was issued a gag order and had his medical records improperly accessed after he raised the red flag on problems at the facility in Phoenix.
Concerned Veterans for America Arizona State Director Matt Dobson issued the following statement:
“There has been a clear pattern of retaliation against those who speak up about the failing Phoenix VA. We should be praising those with the courage to expose VA wrongdoing, not punishing them. The VA Accountability Act would strengthen protections for whistleblowers, and we urge the new Congress to move on this bill in the President-Elect’s first 100 days.”
It’s nearing three years since the Phoenix VA wait list scandal was revealed by additional whistleblowers in April 2014. Since then, despite tens of billions of dollars in additional funding for the VA, wait times for health care have gone up at many VA hospitals and there are still regular reports of tragic misconduct within the agency. In October, an Inspector General report confirmed that hundreds of veterans are still dying waiting for care in Phoenix.
CVA supports the VA Accountability Act, which make it easier to fire bad VA employees in addition to strengthening whistleblower protections.