According to recent reports, more than 50 employees of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs are facing severe reprimands from the agency for revealing inadequate and dangerous treatment of patients within facilities across the nation. An ongoing congressional investigation into the VA seeks to determine how many veterans have suffered due to prolonged waits and other improper practices.
Staffers who have tried to shine a light on the department’s operations are now seeking protection from punishment they have received as a result of the exposure. One VA nurse in New York, for example, was demoted and could be suspended for 30 days for attempting to aid a patient victimized by a sexual predator.
Valerie Riviello, then the facility’s senior nurse manager, said she realized the patient had been restrained in a hospital bed for seven hours before she released her. As a result, she was reportedly barred permanently from any patient contact and given a desk job. Riviello still faces the possibility of a suspension without pay.
Making matters worse, the same patient was subsequently strapped to a bed for more than two entire days while doctors at the facility were taking a holiday break. Citing her own experience, Riviello said other potential whistleblowers opted to remain silent.
“The nurses are afraid to complain or report anything,” she explained, adding “they’ve seen what is happening to me” and do not want to risk the same retaliation.
Her allegations are unfortunately all too common within the department. Riviello said that, despite a VA spokesperson’s pronouncement that “employees have a number of venues available to them to raise issues and concerns,” she was targeted and her stellar record as a nurse damaged by her commitment to patient care.
“I feel like I’ve been humiliated and it’s tarnished,” she noted, asserting her current position “away from the clinical arena” is “too much.”
Riviello is seeking legal representation to fight back against the VA’s treatment. According to an attorney working on her case, however, any development could be slow in coming due to the fact that the firm is currently handling more than 50 other similar complaints.
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom