Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Tim Walz (D-MN), who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Oversight and Investigation Sub-committee, visited the St. Cloud VA to conduct oversight following the release of a report by the Office of the Inspector General that was conducted by the VA Midwest Health Network (VISN-23) in 2013.
The VISN report substantiated five of the six allegations regarding abusive and disrespectful work environment by management, patient workload 150% of normal, cancelled appointments, and patient safety issues stemming from five of the twenty-one providers leaving in just under forty days.
After hearing from staff and providers today, Walz and Emmer suggested federal mediation to resolve the on-going conflict between leadership and staff. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is an independent federal service that can get involved and help mediate in situations such as this at the joint request of the parties involved.
“A positive workplace is essential to continuing valued and necessary care for those who sacrificed for our freedom,” said Walz. “I heard today from staff, patients and leaders to determine whether the culture identified in the Inspector General report has changed. I learned the communication is still very strained and management still has significant work to do . Providers who work at the VA are the very foundation of caring for our veterans and deserve nothing less than our full effort to improve the situation. I thank Representative Emmer and his staff for their work to address these important issues.”
“Our veterans across the United States have dedicated their lives to protect this country and it is our duty to ensure they have access to excellent care once they return home,” said Emmer. “Today we listened to VA staff, union officials, and veterans to discuss their concerns and suggestions for improvement. It is vital that necessary action is taken at every level to ensure our veterans receive the care they've earned, and those caring for them receive the utmost respect and attention. That's why both sides agreeing to federal mediation is a substantial step in the right direction. I'm very grateful to Congressman Walz and his staff for their help in this effort for our veterans."
A copy of the report and answers to additional questions by the Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General is available on Congressman Walz’s website https://walz.house.gov/issues/veterans-issues
Additional information from the reviewing agency, VA Midwest Health Care Network (VISN-23) is also available.