Medical workers at an Illinois VA hospital say two prominent lawmakers were aware that veterans were at risk due to rampant medical neglect at the facility, but neglected to seriously address the problems despite multiple requests.
The employees at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital said they were forced to go to the media with evidence of hospital negligence after they had a string of fruitless meetings with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) in 2013 and 2014.
Officials at the Hines VA reportedly kept sick patients waiting months for appointments and maintained yearlong backlogs of unread heart test evaluations, according to Dr. Lisa Nee and Germaine Clarno, two former employees.
The hospital is now at the center of a national scandal over patient mistreatment at the VA, which has prompted a string of internal investigations and an ongoing Senate probe led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.). The hospital’s head resigned last year amid a national outcry.
However, the whistleblowers said the lack of response from Duckworth and Durbin was troubling and raises questions about whether political pressure in Illinois has delayed an impartial investigation into the practices at Hines VA.
Clarno, a Democrat and union leader, said she met with Duckworth three times between 2013 and 2014 to report on “secret waiting lists” at the hospital, which hid the fact that patients were going months before seeing a doctor after calling to schedule an appointment.
Nee also provided evidence that heart tests were going unread for months or years. The doctor said that when she began working at the Hines facility she was given boxes full of year-old cardiology tests that had never been examined. After she started reviewing them, she realized many of the patients had already died from heart conditions.
“Looking back, foolishly, I went to my own [Democratic] party thinking that they would do something. It’s not an easy thing for me to say, but it’s reality,” said Clarno, a social worker who has worked at the Hines VA for six years and is also the president of AFGE Local 781.
Our federal officials couldn't be much clearer: they don't care about the people they were elected to serve. Let's give them a wake-up call they can't ignore. An Article V Convention of States can propose constitutional amendments that significantly shrink the federal government's power and jurisdiction.