Durbin Meets With VA Secretary, Continues To Press For Reforms At Marion VA

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin to discuss the steps being taken to ensure accountability at Marion VA Medical Center following reports of alleged incidents of prohibited personnel practices.  Durbin also noted Marion VA Medical Center Director Jo-Ann Ginsberg’s effort to address concerns among the top leadership team at Marion VA, but urged Secretary Shulkin to look into the concern that the middle management team at Marion VA remains problematic and that whistleblowers continue to be protected.

Recent reports detail alleged incidents of prohibited personnel practices at Marion VA, including whistleblower retaliation, nepotism, unfair labor practices, and mistreatment and abuse of employees.  Most concerning is the fact that this alleged mismanagement is negatively impacting quality of care and jeopardizing patient safety. 

“We owe each and every veteran a great debt of gratitude, and their health care needs should be treated with the utmost care and attention at VA medical centers across the country,” said Durbin.  “Allegations of personnel mismanagement that could impact patient care at Marion VA Medical Center are extremely concerning to me, especially given the history of mismanagement at this rural facility.  Today, I continued to press Secretary Shulkin to hold the Marion VA accountable for implementing true reforms that enhance the quality of care for our nation’s heroes and protect whistleblowers.”

Photos of today’s meeting are available here. 

Earlier this month, Durbin visited Marion VA Medical Center and met with leadership and concerned staff to discuss the ongoing investigations related to mismanagement and retaliation against whistleblowers, and the potential impact on patient safety and care. 

Durbin has long been outspoken about the need to investigate potential mismanagement at the Marion VA Medical Center. After hearing concerns from Marion VA hospital employees, Durbin penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael J. Missal this past May urging him to initiate an independent investigation into patient care at the Marion VA. When Durbin failed to see improvements in patient care and safety at the Marion VA, he wrote a second letter in July to Secretary Shulkin requesting a meeting to stress the need for a comprehensive review of the Marion VA by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  In August, Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) met with Secretary Shulkin to discuss allegations of mismanagement and poor patient care at Marion VA Medical Center.  

Durbin has also supported efforts to help rural facilities, such as Marion VA Medical Center, improve recruitment and retention of quality medical professionals.  Earlier this year, Durbin supported an exemption for the VA from the Trump Administration’s federal government hiring freeze, and in the past has championed appropriations and legislative efforts to attract medical professionals to rural VA hospitals with financial incentives and provide full practice authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to improve access to quality care.