VA Tightlipped On Upcoming Dismissals At VISN 19


Benjamin KrauseVeterans Affairs has announced its desire to fire two senior level employees connected with record manipulation. Most veterans consider this a weak start in light of the audit results proving mass manipulation across Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs has apparently announced hopes to fire two employees for data manipulation in Colorado and Wyoming. Veterans Affairs also plans to reprimand four other employees. So far, the firings would be the harshest punishment following the breaking of the scandal.

Head of Colorado’s VISN 19, Ralph Gigliotti, is one of the mentioned employees on the short list for some kind of punishment. He is the fearless leader of the VA Rocky Mountain Network.

Head of the Cheyenne VA Medical Center, Cynthia McCormack, is also named on the short list of employees who may be reprimanded. McCormack is supervised by Gigliotti and was formerly supervised by Sharon Helman at the now infamous Phoenix VA.

Her subordinate Dr. Jerry Zang may also be linked to the scandal. Zang was previously a senior manager for the long troubled Marion VAMC in Illinois.

From what I can tell, VISN 19 was a mess. Christine Gregory, former director of the Fort Harrison VA, recently stepped down likely in anticipation of a potential firing. That VA health care center listed fourth among the 141 VA health care centers audited for falsifying appointment data. Fort Collins just lost its business officer to the scandal following allegations of retaliation against a whistleblower.

While this is a nice start, VA needs to get cracking on firing the hundreds of employees who purposefully falsified veterans’ appointment data for their own benefit.

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  1. I have a disability rating of 70% & was given a gift of 30% un-employability when Rehab Medicine with whom I spent 3 to 4 years as a regular patient did 2 EMG tests because of my back problem that caused me to walk bent over to nearly 90 degrees. Both EMG tests were negative. They did a cat-scan that does not show soft tissue & then cancelled an MRI that would have shown the problem. So they injected my back on an X-ray machine to see location of needle. They had me crying like a baby as they never brought any pain med knowing I would have to lie flat away from the 90 degree normal on the X-ray table. Then the pain wen away & their diagnosis was it was just inflammation. I had been going there for almost 3 years walking erect with crutches, then come in bent to near 90 degrees. It became inflamed in the middle of the night waking me up & unable to stand erect. I got an appointment with Neuro-Surgery late Friday P.M. They looked at same EMG tests called MRI & asked if they could stay late to do MRI on this patient. They did & they did surgery on my back Monday morning. Since then I have been diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis. After surgery they do an automatic re-evaluation. They changed all of the numbers that were there to what fitted their plan & then gave me 30% un-employability to total 100%. upset I asked why this method & nothing for the back that still had a piece of disc floating around plus severe nerve damage that made my upper left leg feel like it is packed in ice. They said it was just easier to do it this way, but what is important is that it totals 100%. Later I moved from calif. to Texas & had my last visit with VA Palo Alto & the doctor I saw had become quite a good friend. When I left he gave me a copy recent visits with doctors notations & other data that I was not supposed to have. One of Vietnamese doctors notations told absolute lies. I did not want to raise a fuss as I was not supposed to have the & did not my friend in trouble. When I got to Texas they have a system that you must follow to be approved & it takes from a month to 2 months. At Longview Clinic I told the girl I have to have some medication & some is critical heart meds. She just shrugged her shoulders & said she could not do anything. Being a priority ‘one’ vet meant nothing. I left & a young girl followed me to my car & suggested I call Palo Alto & talk to my primary care doctor to see if he could help. It was 7 months befor I saw a Texas doctor, my Palo Alto primary care doctor, another friend, sent my prescriptions for those 7 months. Texas excuse was that I never talked to them to start the procedure & my papers were lost, etc. (run around). I have many more things I could write, but this is enough to show the overall disgust with the operation of the complete VA. Another point what recourse do we have when a doctor lies & we do not even know it due to the secrecy of the reports they make every time we see a doctor. We should get a copy, transparency rules, many doctors will lie just to make themselves look good. Sorry this is so long. I also have a blinded left eye due to an outside Retina doctor
    Palo Alto had come in & treat me. He used a laser & left a scar right at the central focus point of the Retina. Later appointment in Shreveport learned that you never use a laser near a Retina, you have to inject the eye. They even asked was this guy a doctor or a technician. I have a stent that I should not have. I went into Dallas VA for Pulmonary Vein ablation surgery & woke up with a 2 lead pacemaker. They started me on Lovenox (blood thinner injections)& my chest was very red from internal bleeding. They had to take it out & cauterize 15 to 18 places. The anesthesia wore off & I felt last 10 or 12 burns. They gave me a shot but it took too long to take effect. Then I felt every stitch. It did not work properly so they had to replace it with a 4 lead unit. Again I could write more, but I am sure I have over used my welcome, thanks for reading what I am sure is typical for any vet using VA.

    1. An older topic but still probative.

      My NOD date of January 2012 was manipulated (in email) from the Director of the Buffalo VARO 2 weeks ago to become instead, April 2015.
      I guess she didnt want that NOD date 2012 to appear on their NOD target quota stuff.

      I sent the IG another Hotline complaint ( with heading that I am the Potential victim of VA fraud as within my other complaint, (regarding a different situation involving the CUE claim that preceded this NOD filing date) after her call to me on Thursday again refusing to read my evidence for the CUE claim.I told her I was contacting the IG on her attempt to manipulate the NOD date, (I sent her a CC of that IG complaint, , plus to the Sec, to Hickey, and to one other VACO employee.

      and today my dead husband got a letter from the VA.

      I cannot figure out yet how he can respond to it since he has been 6 feet under at the Bath NY National Cemetery for over 20 years, but the good part is that he got the proper date of the recent manipulated NOD, It is properly, January 6, 2012. And he got his appeal rights to re: DRO review , I-9 etc.even though he is dead.

      I dont know of the NOD reversal (she reversed something else very important 2 weeks ago as well) is due to my other IG complaints or not.

      The VA still fails to address the fact that they still owe me a five figure award, this CUE claim was granted on March 6, 2015,granting the time frame and award info
      (Section 1151, 100% P & T , plus SMC , vet, 2 dependents, from March 1993 to October 1994, but they (the VA director) still maintains,as the decision states too, I was already paid for a decision they just made, saying no additional money was due to me.

      Since 1995 I have proof of over 100,000 dollars in retro/offset errors of money legally due to me,that my VARO refused to correct until the RC, and the OGC ,in another case got involved in. I will use it if I submit more testimony to the H VAC.

      I can only assume since the director of my RO refused three times, by phone,this past Thursday (by not answering my question at all if the VA would read my evidence) for the claim that this NOD was filed on, means something sure seems nefarious as to why they will not pay me the accrued amount, saying they already did, with absolutely No reasons and Basis, or any proof at all, of that payment.. I got 6 months of a post residual comp exam in 2012 and the exam , which was 4 days after the six months award period, and all of my additional evidence they refuse to read involves a high five figure award. Based on all of the info I have documented from VA, I can only assume it went to someone else and hopefully that has become a IG matter they can look into because my VARO director refuses to..

      This is a 1151 claim that the retro involves. In spite of any vet (like my husband) who already has a 100% SC P & T status for a direct SC disability,
      under an established 1151 100% P & T SMC award, independent of the 100% SC, however, they still get the additional comp which is paid,as the decision I cued and NODed, proves.

      Their 6 month 1151 payment was right but only for 6 months and not the full 22 months they still owe me.

      My husband died due to VA health care, FTCA/1151 then DMII AO, IHD AO direct SC deaths awards (both misdiagnosed) and I recently won another CUE and they finally awarded his 1151 HBP. as they committed many CUEs in a 1998 decision.
      I already have won the other CUES they committed.

  2. I was a member of the anesthesiology department at the Durham VA for over eight years mostly under the management of Mr. Ralph Gigliottit. The nation now knows what he was doing, but it sounds as if it will be handled in the typical VA fashion. He will get a slap on the wrist and wisked off to some office with full salary and benefits intact. The entire system is so bogged down in red tape and corruption that this kind of mismanagement is rampant throughout the entire VA system. For example about five years ago a new employee was hired for position in central decontamination and sterilization. He had no prior experience with medical sterilization procedures, but most likely was a friend of some manager. He was tasked with the job of decontaminating and sterilizing a load of video and camera equipment used for minimally invasive surgery. This particular load of equipment primarily belonged the the urology service at the Durham VA. The kind of equipment is expensive, fragile and requires specific procedures for sterilization. It requires gas sterilization with ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide is a gas which is highly flammable and reactive. It can cause personal injury from exposure and longterm exposure has been associated with many forms of cancer. Suffice it to say that only experienced and well trained staff should be using ethylene oxide with proper training and supervision. This employee placed the entire load of video equipment into the high temperature steam sterilizer which immediately melted most of the components ruining the equipment. This was several hundred thousand dollars in equipment that had to be trashed. It resulted in surgery cancellations for weeks until new equipment could be borrowed or purchased. Nothing much happened except for some remediation and training. This is a shining example of the incompetence that is standard operating procedure in our nations VA medical centers. Another example of waste is the fact that in most institutions the anesthesiologists are routinely responsible for four anesthetizing locations which usually means four operating rooms. Each of those rooms would usually be staff by trained certified professionals primarily providing the anesthetic services to the patient. In most cases this person is a certified registered nurse anesthetist(CRNA). The Durham VA has 9 operating rooms, one interventional cardiology room, and two endoscopy procedure rooms totaling about 12 locations daily. In private practice this would be covered by 12 CRNAs and 3 anesthesiologists. At the Durham VA which by the way is not primarily in the business of educating residents, each anesthesiologist would only be required to have two anesthetizing locations usually one with a fully trained CRNA and one with a anesthesia resident in training at various levels. As you can see this doubles the number of anesthesiologists needed daily just for the previously mentioned locations. This is double the required for private practice. This phyicians are paid about 300,000.00 per year by the federal system to do have the workload of their private practice counterparts. The Feds response was to fully capitalize on the expertise and training of the the CRNA workforce by giving them independent practioner status. The response was immediate and cut throat by the American Society of Anesthesiologist’s which is tasked with protecting the job security and premium salaries enjoyed by our nations anesthesiologists. All the while the VA is having to employee about 3 times more physicians because they are only doing half the workload.

  3. I am a VISN 19 employee (Montana) and the wife of a service connected veteran (physically injured while in country). Let me be clear, I did not get my job because of this, I chose to serve veterans because I can think of no greater honor. I came from the DoD system and honest to God I cant even tell you what I am encountering. We have asked for help over and over again and nobody will come to the CBOC’s and speak to the employees, without managers on site, on condition of anonymity with written protections. The employees are scared…they are scared of retaliation, firing, and the impact those things would have on their families. Montana is beautiful but economically depressed. The good people who work the front lines do so because they are committed to veterans and their care. I regularly work 75 hours a week (Mental health counselor) because we don’t have (and cant keep) staff. What should I do..turn my back on a vet who is suffering the invisible wounds of war? Most of the managers in this system are bullies and the very least. They have NO empathy for the vets and do not care about the veterans. They RULE by fear, intimidation, threats and retaliation; They are tyrannical and if an employee does not acquiesce they are harassed to the point of torture until such time as they quit or are fired. The data being reported is suspect at the very least and appears to be manipulated on a regular basis. The people who were manipulating the data are still in charge so really what would we expect. In fact my second staff meeting as a VA employee I listened to the clinic manager instruct the employees on how to change the desired date to get the appointment within 14 day measure (the one that had all the managerial bonus attached); I have been an employee for 22 months. I listened to the manager tell two employees who refused to manipulate the data that they could be fired for doing so. The managers disregard statutes, rule, regulation, policy and law on a regular basis. The violations are astounding and honestly it often feels like I work for a legal organized crime syndicate. And yes there are still bonuses being pain. The SES managers manipulated the yearly performance evaluations so only 16% of the workforce were above satisfactory. Understand that a rating or outstanding or excellent in the VA system has a performance bonus for the employee that is monetarily based. The monies to pay this come out of a pool…so what was left of the bonus money was paid to the managers based on their evaluations. And because I’ve had enough, meaning I sick and tired of these behaviors impacting my ability to treat the veterans I became a union steward. and Yes this has painted a huge target on my back. I don’t enjoy putting myself in the line of fire as I too have a family to support and this puts my ability to do so at great risk but if I stay silent I become complicit. And before you ask…the OIG is worthless. Their job appears to be to protect the secretary and the president. The office of special counsel however appears to be our friend but the process is slow and cumbersome. I ask myself why nobody is coming to help us? Why nobody is looking at the 146% turnover in mental health in five years, why the SES manager of nursing services has had 47 managers that have quit or been fired in two years, why is nobody looking at the 30,000 consults that are open in our system with no disposition…why? Back to the performance bonuses for the mangers. The managers got outstanding and excellent ratings. Are you kidding me…we have 146% turnover, a steady stream of union and OIG actions, are hemorrhaging employees in other departments, have many hostile workplace complaints, denials of ADA actions, 30,000 consults that have no dispositions and managers are getting outstanding or excellent ratings?….tell me where the honesty in this is as I am somehow missing it. I want someone to help us and not politicize, pontificate or sweep it under the rug. Our mission is a sacred charge, most of us, the majority in fact, have left high paying civilian employment to be part of this mission. How is it that 1% of the workforce is allowed to behave in this way and nobody seems to understand that the Veterans are the ones who ultimately pay the price for this.

    1. Patty, as a veteran, let me thank you for your service to our veterans. You have the right attitude to help those that are in in care. I was fired from the VA in Grand Junction because my supervisor said I was doing too good of a job in m depatment. If you can go on line with these complaints, e-mail your Congressman and Senators with these problems. I believe that if we stick together with enough complaints, someone will hear and do something.

  4. I worked in the anesthesia department in the Durham VA medical center for 8 years. It was a stormy tormented existence because I could never deal with the CRAZY amount of incompetence and apathy when it came to patient care. Most of the Durham VA medical staff was made up of residents in training from the Duke University Medical Center. The Durham VA served as Duke’s pasture for aged out physicians. Duke has a policy of forced retirement for physicians turning 70. While I do not agree with this policy it just struck me that one of top medical centers in the nation considered these folks too old to provide care for the general population but had no problem with them caring for our nations veterans. The anesthesiology attendings at the the Durham VA refer to themselves as “faculty”. This refers to the fact that the Duke anesthesia residents rotate thru the Durham VA. In any other institutions they would refer to themselves as “attendings”. This speaks to their primary responsibility which is teaching the residents. I finally had to leave the VA system. I go so frustrated with the institution of policies just because it sounded good and made for great resume fodder for these acamedicians. The system is broken and should be completely dismantled. Give the american veterans a healthcare spending account based on their service connected problems.

  5. Gigliotti,
    started the scandal at VAMC DURHAM.
    In order to get his many bonuses there he ordered staff to cook the books.
    He is also responsible for the VA DENVER REPLACEMENT hospital to
    be almost a half billion dollars over budget. While he was Associate Director
    at the Denver he was responsible for the planning of this boon doggle.
    He needs to be fired ASAP.

    1. Ralph Gigiliotti needs to be removed asap, but be held accountable for all of his mistakes in management if you can call it that. He is just like Glen Grippen, who they brought out of retirement to run the facility in Phoenix, where Sharon Helman had things all fouled up.

    2. Ralph Gigliotti needs to go, he is a user of the system and his pockets are full. He doesn’t work with the veterans in any shape nor form.

  6. With bonuses being frozen, you would think all employees who have an alternate agenda would be dragging up or retiring now. Any news on this?

    1. They always CLAIM they will quit, if their bonuses are taken away, but that is pure VA bull shit. The truth is that not ONE VA administrator could get anywhere close to the pay and bennies they get in VA, if they bailed out private business. If GMC or Standard oil or DOW chemical WANTED any of these dreebs they would already have them. For a talented person, VA employment is the bottom of the barrel. For these greedy, self serving clowns, it is the very best they will EVER do, even WITHOUT the bonuses.

      1. I have heard from somewhere and I am not sure where but they have changed the word “bonus” to another word that means basically the same. That way they can honestly say that they do not receive a bonus. Yet they actually do still receive a bonus it is called another word and I can’t think of what it is called. If I find out I will put it in here, if anyone else knows of this could you please put it down. It is all just a play on words so that people will think that they don’t get any other “bonus” money but in reality they still get the same thing and same amount. They are basically lying to us. No surprise there I am sure.

  7. I, in “Tear It Down”, written four years ago, identified that most VARO, VISN, and VAMC Directors were at the root of arbitrary decisions against veterans and should be fired and prosecuted. It is not enough to fire them, most already qualify for retirement, they must be prosecuted and sent to jail, primarily to set the future example to all.

    I also railed against the unions and VSOs for continually crying for more employees while discriminating against veterans. Additionally, they are complicit with VA management’s arbitrary decisions and practices and could have blown the whistle themselves, but did not. Therefore, they not only silently condoned these practices, but also showed a lack of morals and understanding of ethical business acumen and should be decertified and banned from servicing the VA.

      1. Leadership positions where? Drafted by whom? VSOs elect their leaders, not draft them.

  8. It can’t be emphasized enough that VA employees must be held accountable. They each need to realize that their first loyalty must be to the veterans they serve and not to the bureaucracy that employs them. Those who blow the whistle on others who fail to put veterans first should get generously rewarded and should be held in high esteem by the veterans they serve.

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