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Whistle-Blower: ‘The VA System Is A Perfect Example Of Cronyism’

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Michael Volpe
Contributor

Bad hiring practices have led to a culture of cronyism that is as at the center of a burgeoning number of scandals at the Overton-Brooks Veteran Administration (VA) Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Shea Wilkes, who blew the whistle on the secret waiting list in the mental health department, told The Daily Caller that he also filed a complaint about bad hiring practices alongside the waiting-list complaint.

Wilkes said a full audit of the hiring practices in the mental health department occurred after it was discovered that many candidates didn’t even have their files scored during the interview process.

Wilkes served as one of four individuals on the hiring committee for the current chief of staff of the Mental Health Department at Overton-Brooks, where he charges he saw cronyism first hand: Though three of the four people on the committee scored Dr. Charles Patterson poorly, Patterson was hired when hospital Chief of Staff Patrick McGauly overrode his three colleagues.

According to Jessica Jacobsen, a media relations specialist with the VA, there was nothing untoward with the hiring process.

“All applicants are ranked by Human Resources, with only the top qualified applicants forwarded to the Services (in this case Mental Health) for interview and potential selection. Dr. Patterson was one applicant forwarded to Mental Health for consideration of hire for the Mental Health Chief.”

“All candidates,” Jacobsen added, “sent forth from Human Resources ranked by raters in a panel within and outside the Mental Health service.”

“The highest scoring candidates were personally interviewed. The ratings and recommendations were then provided to then-Chief of Staff, Dr. Sara Battar, who made the final selection for the service chief of Mental Health.”

“The interviews were not even close!,” Wilkes fired back. ”All three members of the panel from Mental Health explained that Dr. Patterson was not the best choice to Dr. McGauly.”

Patterson has emerged as a central figure in the scandal involving secret waiting lists in the mental health department, with Patterson calling the allegations “propaganda” in several leaked emails.

Patterson and McGauly previous worked together at the Louisiana State University Hospital in Shreveport.