Washington, D.C. – On Monday, the Minnesota Congressional Delegation called upon U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to visit the St. Cloud VA Health Care System (St. Cloud VA) as soon as possible to reassure the employees and the thousands of veterans they serve of the VA’s commitment to providing a healthy and productive workplace to ensure delivery of the highest quality medical care.
The bi-partisan group of lawmakers wrote to the VA Secretary after media reports revealed multiple complaints about the St. Cloud VA work environment. The letter was signed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Tom Emmer, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Rick Nolan, Rep. Collin Peterson, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Betty McCollum, Rep. Erik Paulsen, and Rep. John Kline.
“We are writing to bring your personal attention to recent media reports about the St. Cloud VA Health Care System,” the lawmakers wrote. “Several local media outlets have reported concerns about patient access and care, workplace culture, facility operations and construction contracting.”
On October 2, Reps. 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 recent release of a 2014 report to the Office of the Inspector General conducted by the VA Midwest Health Network (VISN-23). The 2014 VISN 23 report substantiated five of the six allegations regarding St. Cloud VA facilities, services, staffing and managerial practices.
After Reps. Emmer and Walz heard concerns about ongoing strained relationships, lack of trust, and unresolved grievances, the pair suggested to both management and labor to voluntarily and jointly request assistance and support from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
“We’re encouraged that management and labor at the facility recently agreed to voluntarily work together with facilitation and training conducted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to strengthen workplace relationships,” the lawmakers wrote.
The full text of the letter is below: