US

Memphis VA Doles Out 100K In Bonuses Despite Scandals

Despite a series of scandals, the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Memphis has approved bonuses totaling more than $100,000 to several top executives over the last eighteen months, The Daily Caller has learned.

The Memphis VA was the subject of four exposés by TheDC over the summer and a VA inspector general report found the hospital to have among the worst wait times in the nation. On top of that, there have been a series of scandals that have received local coverage: contaminated dialysis machines, multiple patient deaths due to inadequate patient care and complaints about unsanitary working conditions.

Despite all this, the hospital’s chief executive officer, C. Diane Knight, was given a $7,500 bonus in December 2012 and another $5,000 bonus in December 2013 approved by the Veteran Integrated Services Network (VISN) 9 chief medical officer Dr. Vincent Alvarez.

VISN 9 refers to the geographical division of VA hospitals which includes the Memphis VA.

Knight made $233,593 in salary in 2013, according to the latest figures analyzed by TheDC.

More troubling is a retention bonus given to the Memphis VA chief operating officer, James McGlawn.

In January 2014, McGlawn filed formal papers for his retirement — only to be brought back at the urging of Knight.

Knight coaxed McGlawn back with a retention bonus which increased McGlawn’s compensation from $126,359 to $201,700.

But Memphis VA whistleblower Sean Higgins said that McGlawn is scheduled to be moved to another facility later in the month.

Higgins also noted that when McGlawn does retire he’ll receive a pension based on his new salary.

A call to McGlawn’s cell phone was left unreturned.

Alfred Pratt, the equal employment opportunity manager, received a “superior performance award.”

Higgins said that a “superior performance award” is added to an employee’s check and can be as much as 5% of their salary, but Adam Andrzejewski of Open The Books, which attempts to put all government compensation on-line, told TheDC that he found out awards like the “superior performance award” aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Sandra Glover, the spokesperson for VISN 9, was asked in an email the exact total of each “superior performance award” but she didn’t respond to the email for comment.

Higgins said Pratt received this bonus even though the Memphis VA has the second-most outstanding EEO complaints.

Kevin Turnage, a nurse at the Memphis VA, has an outstanding EEO complaint. In testimony from October 20, 2014, Turnage said he was subjected to a hostile work environment but that Pratt only made it appear as though he would help.

“I received an email from him (Pratt) saying that my reasonable accommodation was approved and that he would get the paperwork to me soon.” Turnage stated in testimony. “I still do not have any paperwork saying my reasonable accommodation has been approved.”

Pratt received a salary of $68,809 in 2013.

Christopher Marino, the chief of staff at the hospital, received an excellent appraisal in November 2013, though no bonus amount was listed.

TheDC spoke with Marshall Harris, president of the local National Association of Government Employees union, which bargains on behalf of several hundred Memphis VA employees. He told TheDC that staff morale has been at an all-time low during his tenure.

Marino received a salary of $273,267 in 2013.

Karen Gillette, the head of nursing, also received a “superior performance award” in December 2013. Gillette received this bonus even though she’s been implicated in Turnage’s EEO complaint as part of a scheme to retaliate and contribute to a hostile work environment.

Gillette earned a salary of $155,233 in 2013.

Turnage also testified that Knight was aware of the situation but did nothing.
Others who received “superior performance” bonuses were Michael Harper, an executive officer, and Willie Logan, communications director for the hospital. Harper received a salary of $87,278 in 2013.

Logan initially denied having received a bonus.

“I am not aware of the documents to which you are referring.”

TheDC subsequently provided a copy of Logan’s “superior performance award” which was filled out on December 03, 2013.

Logan didn’t provide any further comment. Logan received a salary of $100,914 in 2013.

The Daily Caller’s original exposé revealed that in 2010 the Memphis VA handed out over $1 million in bonuses to its employees while closing its therapeutic pool, claiming a lack of funds.