MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Since his appointment in 2014, Robert McDonald has been on a mission to transform a veterans administration plagued with troubles.
"Improving the employee experience is critical to us improving the veteran experience," he said while visiting Minnesota to get a first-hand look at turmoil within the St. Cloud VA.
For the past 7 months, the Fox 9 Investigators have been reporting on what insiders call a "toxic culture” there. They blame senior management for an exodus of doctors which they say has left the center dangerously overloaded with patients. More than 30 providers have resigned since 2011. A VA investigation found many were burned out from working long days. Privately, some tell us they were fed up with what they call a vindictive management.
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Recordings obtained by the Fox 9 Investigators reveal medical staff warned top brass that the workload was causing mistakes to happen. They've also accused management of trying to disguise staffing shortages by assigning patients to doctors who don't even work there anymore, a practice they nicknamed "ghost panels." Veterans have complained about being bounced around from one doctor to another.
On Friday, Secretary McDonald will tour the St. Cloud facility and meet with management and members of the medical staff. The question that remains: Will this just be a PR visit, or will it lead to significant changes for the better?