osc-seal-logoToday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) honored three VA employees with its Public Servant of the Year award. The VA whistleblowers worked directly with OSC to uncover issues with patient care at the Phoenix, Arizona, and Jackson, Mississippi, VA Medical Centers.

The three awardees are:

  • Dr. Katherine Mitchell, who disclosed critical understaffing and inadequate triage training at the Phoenix VA medical center’s emergency room and other problems.
  • Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck, who blew the whistle on chronic understaffing at the Jackson VA medical center, problems with the supervision of nurse practitioners, and other issues in early 2013.
  • Dr. Charles Sherwood, who brought forward concerns of improper practices in the Jackson VA medical center’s radiology department.

The OSC wasn’t alone in recognizing the efforts of the three physicians. VA’s Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson was on hand during the award ceremony to acknowledge their contributions to Veterans by bringing to light improper practices and conditions that were affecting patient care.

“While we still have vast work to do, I believe that it’s because of Dr. Katherine Mitchell that access to care in Phoenix is beginning to improve,” Gibson said. “I believe it’s because of Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck and Dr. Charles Sherwood that Veterans are beginning to receive better care in Mississippi.”

Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner echoed Gibson’s remarks and highlighted VA’s determination to listen and protect its whistleblowers.

“Although there is still work to be done, the new leadership at the VA has swiftly taken corrective actions to improve access to care and to hold individuals accountable,” Lerner said. “The VA has also renewed its commitment to listen to employees who speak out.”

Gibson also expanded on MyVA the largest department-wide transformation in VA’s history – and the importance of “building an organization defined by Veteran outcomes and the satisfaction of those we serve.”

“So to all three of you, on behalf of the entire Department and all the Veterans we serve, thank you for living our values and being an example to all of us,” he said.

You can read Deputy Secretary Gibson’s remarks here.

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Published on Dec. 3, 2014

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

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  1. patrick jahnke December 6, 2014 at 12:51 am

    10 to 1 odds I bet uuu anything these immigrants will get better faster care than us vets, people on welfare, jail, personal get better services than us veterans!!!! Why we can’t see a doc near by, unless we pay top cost CCC doc , gov took narcotics drug from veteran fight war , put use on drug that will kill us. Antidepressant nasty side effect, have to take 8-10 per day fight pain in 3 months time u reach that level.

  2. Danny December 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I find it very ironic that our (?) government is able to so quickly hire 1000 people to take care of the illegal immigrants, yet they are unable to hire enough people to care for those of us that have served this great country. Secretary McDonald has been fighting for us, but he can’t do it by himself. If the gov’t would stop getting involved in civil matters & worrying about getting votes in the upcoming election, they would have more time to fulfill the promises they have made to us! I am not heartless, I just feel that we should take care of Americans first, & that civil matters should be left up to the civil courts.

  3. Theodore Allan Block December 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    How about the little guys who blew the whistle? Are they protected too?
    I am a patient at the KCVA. I would like to know who is over the clinic Doctors, Nurse Practitioners,and Nurses . Is there someone at all VA med. centers? Who are they accountable to?

  4. patrick jahnke December 4, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Why does the veterans need a MINORITY COMMITTEE? We all vertans needed to be treated the same! I have many complaint about my primary care doc, nurse. How they treat us veterans when needed. They call u 3 days later , ALL VETERAN S GET EQUAL TREATMENT, DOES NOT MATTER, RACE, SEX, OR COLOR!!!!!!!!!!!! We all did time, in sevices.

  5. Jake Jaquith December 4, 2014 at 11:32 am

    It’s time to understand if you have money to send soldiers/sailors to War you better have the money to take care of the Veterans after. Veteran Care is not a benefit its an entitlement.
    God bless our troops, God bless our veterans

  6. patrick jahnke December 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

    U know thier are some great people in the va system, but when u run in a person or a clinic that can’t help a veteran in pain. I have scars tissue damage from chemical fire, 5 yes ago got some meds resparked nerves , feels like 1000 needles what come out. Was I on a narcotic drug march 2014 nurse deleted them after my doctor retired, pain levels 10 + even when I’m. Asleep, my primary doc nurse is telling. Do many things, Pt know , it helps 1 hr after pain returns, then. A deer pop out on me did left knee pain cont did xray 1 time, 3 week later went to different va hosp I getting a MRI , nurse told goto see PT , I did he working in blind he has no knowledge what is really wrong, so he trying no luck, I do have a tens unit, it like a tricky charger , PT has 10x powerful so it nonstop u have do this , pain management click is useless , still fighting pain no help. Will I guess NO ONE CARES in veteran clinic or my primary care, leg pain.

  7. Bill December 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I hope and pray that more whistle-blowers come forward. Most VA employees are very caring and are concerned about “we the veterans”. Seems the upper management is not in touch with veterans. To them we are numbers, not people. Secretary McDonald appears to be working to remedy many problems, and meeting with some resistance.

  8. Danny December 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    The VETERANS Administration OSC has made a fine decision in recognizing these 3 people for making enough noise to make someone take notice! while I am a friend, ally, and strong believer in Secretary McDonald, I still have SERIOUS doubts about the VETERANS Administration as a whole. Understaffing & lackadaisical attitudes are still rampant in the VETERANS Administration. Like I have said before though, we veterans have a brother at the top of the VETERANS Administration, & if you are there just for a pay check, I get the feeling you better WATCH OUT! !!
    God bless our troops, God bless our veterans, God bless Secretary McDonald, & God bless America!

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