The Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in Albuquerque, N.M., has just substantiated the first set of allegations made by whistleblower Vanessa Lech, who was driven out of her job in retaliation for reporting her supervisor’s misconduct in addition to concerns about patient and staff safety.
In communication with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent government agency tasked with protecting employees from retaliation, the VA noted that Lech was right: there was a serious and pervasive problem of unsecured, unlocked doors, which now seems to be fixed.
Lech viewed a lack of access controls as a major concern because it allowed mentally unstable veterans with a potential for behavioral problems to wander into staff areas. One particular building where this happened on a regular basis did not even have a security desk or reception.
The VA said that it secured all doors in the basement, as well as multiple access points on the first, second and third floors. Police officers are now tasked with conducting a walkthrough twice a day during regular hours. After regular hours, officers will re-check the building and all doors.
At this point, the VA has substantiated half of all the safety violations Lech mentioned. That substantiation has occurred countless months after Lech first brought up her concerns to OSC in February and was retaliated against by her supervisor. (RELATED: BREAKING: VA Whistleblower Says She Was Driven Out Of Her Job For Reporting Safety Violations)
The investigation is still ongoing, and the current findings did not mention the chronic shortage of vehicles needed for social workers to transport veterans. It also declined to mention safety problems with the vehicles themselves. In one case, the brakes on one of the vehicles failed while Lech was driving. A mechanic’s report later showed that the brakes were 95 percent worn.
Lech’s Equal Employment Opportunity claim, which alleges sexual harassment and all manner of retaliation, including false accusations of violating regulations, has not been answered. OSC has granted the VA two extensions to complete its investigation. The new due date for the second extension is Oct. 26. The generally accepted number of extensions is three.
“My fellow Veterans and my fellow excellent truth telling colleagues cannot afford to continue waiting around for common sense to prevail inside of Veterans Affairs,” Vanessa Lech told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Thousands of toxic managers need to immediately be fired from Veterans Affairs nationwide if there is ever to be any hope of real and desperately needed change.”
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