'The Party's Over': Whistleblower Raises New Allegations of Inti - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

'The Party's Over': Whistleblower Raises New Allegations of Intimidation, Cover-ups at Temple VA

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(KCEN) - The Temple VA medical clinic scandal continues to deepen. Saturday, a whistleblower brought new accusations of intimidation, as well as new evidence employees were asked to lie about appointments.

KCEN spoke exclusively with the VA employee, who wanted to remain completely anonymous. He even asked that we disguise his voice so he doesn't put his job in jeopardy.

"It's been a long time coming, to be honest," the employee said.

He's a veteran, and has been working at the Temple VA for nearly a decade.

"A lot of us that work there," he said, "we've always felt pretty much helpless."

Recent news of scheduling scandals at VAs across the country has him speaking up.

"We've reported things, and we see nothing happen," the whistleblower said.

He said the fear of losing his job over speaking out is part of a culture of intimidation among the higher-ups in Temple.

"There's nothing they won't do to further their agenda. They don't care about anyone else in their path, as long as they get what they want."

Along with the scheduling scandal dating back to 2011, the employee gave us another internal email from October of 2013. This time, employees are told to cancel veteran's appointments so they can schedule evaluations for current soldiers.

They're also told not to explain why.

"When canceling and sending to contract," the email reads, "please remind staff to not tell the patient their appointments are being canceled for another patient."

"You say not telling," the employee said. "I call it lying."

The whistleblower, as well as another source, told us it all feeds in to the atmosphere that the executives can do and say whatever they want without consequences.

He believes it's all about money: Seeing more patients plays into year-end performance ratings, which can boost executives' bonuses as high as five figures.

"They're well aware of what they're doing," he said of the Temple VA's top brass. "They know what they're doing is wrong."

Another email he gave us was sent out Friday by the director of the Central Texas VA system, Sallie Houser-Hanfelder.

Part of it reads, "Where we have failed to meet those commitments [to quality care for veterans] we will redouble our efforts to deliver timely care to patients with compassion and integrity."

Our source said many employees felt as if the blame was being pushed onto them. "I haven't failed anyone," he said. "The executives failed us."

The email ends by noting increased "accountability for senior leadership" and the "elimination of performance awards" for top execs this year; in other words, no bonuses.

The whistleblower said it's a good start, but far more needs to be done.

That employee went so far as to say he'd like to see only veterans working at the VA. He told us it's time to clean house of the executives in Temple.

"The party's over," he said. "It's time to go to jail."



EARLIER STORY

(KCEN) - The Temple VA medical center is embroiled in scandal, and now an employee is speaking out, and raising more allegations.

KCEN spoke exclusively with the whistleblower, on the condition of anonymity. He's afraid he could lose his job if anyone finds out who he is.

He's a veteran himself, and has worked at the Temple VA for nearly a decade. Over the last few years, our source says he's seen a downward spiral in how they treat veterans.

In addition to the scheduling scandal (read lawmakers' responses here), he tells us employees were instructed to cancel appointments so doctors could see other patients.

An internal email reads, "When canceling and sending to contract, please remind staff to not tell the patient their appointments are being canceled for another patient."

"It's because of the reports that they have to do, that's what they worry about," the source said. "They want those reports to make them look good."

The employee says it's all about bonuses for VA leaders.

Performance ratings are partly based on how many patients doctors see, and those ratings play a large role in determining those bonuses, which he says can reach five figures.

Coming up on KCEN HD News at 10, we'll show you more of this whistleblower's interview and his accusations. We'll also show you another email -- this one from Friday -- about how the VA is scrambling to contain the damage.
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