Obama promised that whistleblowers would get special care and protection from his administration. We now see a conflict developing between Shea Wilkes and Overton-Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, in which Wilkes is facing hostility for being a whistleblower. How soon will the Obama Administration intervene and protect Wilkes?
I’m not holding my breath either.
Wilkes is claiming that, just like the hospital in Arizona, the Shreveport hospital has a list (or number of lists) that keep veterans off the official record. This allows them to break the law requiring timely treatment.
The hospital officials are denying the accusations and insisting that the emails Wilkes has produced refer to something else, not a secret list.
And they are also, it seems, getting ready to counter-attack.
According to the Daily Caller,
Wilkes said he heard back from VAOIG [Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General] investigators the day after Senator Vitter sent the VAOIG’s office an initial letter asking for an investigation.
He told TheDC that he’s since hired an attorney because he believes the VAOIG is investigating him for viewing patient medical records improperly.
Ricky John, Wilkes’ attorney, told TheDC after speaking with VAOIG investigators he views his client as a target of their investigation as well.
John said the message relayed to him by the OIG’s office was: “We have concerns over how the list was acquired.” John said he’s since advised the VAOIG’s office that all communication with his client should be done through his office — standard protocol when someone is under investigation.
“I consider this investigation (the VA OIGs investigation) to be retaliation for blowing the whistle on this list,” said Wilkes, recalling a conversation he recently had with hospital management.
Wilkes said he’s also being investigated by the hospital’s privacy officer. He believes that a June 24, 2014 email from James Patterson to some hospital staff was a thinly veiled threat against speaking out.
“It is unfortunate that others are twisting this to be the lies presented in the media,” said Patterson in the email. ”The misrepresentations, misinterpretations, and other propaganda are just that. I am just as sick of it as you are.”
So, according to the hospital, Wilkes is simply making up stories. While we need to wait and see if there is a real investigation, right now the hospital’s version of what is happening is harder to believe. It is more likely that, as one whistleblower comes forward, others are inspired to do so as well.