Over 30 employees at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cincinnati say the hospital is in disarray, reported ABC affiliate WCPO and the Scripps News Washington Bureau. Many of the allegations center on Dr. Barbara Temeck, the hospital's acting chief of staff. The whistleblowers accuse Temeck of instituting cost-cutting measures that have drastically impacted their ability to serve local veterans.
"Things I've observed at the Cincinnati VA are just not up to standard," Mike Brooks, a registered nurse at the VA Medical Center and Navy veteran, said in an interview with the television station. "It bothers me because I know the veterans who deserve the best care we can give them are being put at risk."
Under budget, underperforming
According to the whistleblowers, Temeck reduced the number of orthopedic services offered at the medical center, cut staffing for emergency airway specialists and forced surgeons to reuse questionable surgical equipment. They say she also illegally prescribed opioids and drew an annual salary of $194,343 as a cardiothoracic surgeon while never performing an operation.
Temeck wouldn't comment on the allegations.
Federal and state intervention
Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, on Feb. 17 asked the inspector general at the Department of Veterans Affairs to look into the allegations, reported The New York Times.
"These allegations are deeply disturbing. Those who have served their country in uniform are entitled to the best possible medical care," Portman wrote in a letter to the agency.
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs says it will investigate the hospital, as well.
The administration reacts
The VA on Feb. 13 asked officials at its offices in Pittsburgh to evaluate the veracity of the allegations and expressed concern.
"VA takes any allegations of conduct that negatively affect the care of veterans, or that is against our values, very seriously," the agency told Reuters.