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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dr. Chacko On Indefinite Administrative Leave

UPDATE II: Please also check out my new book, The Definitive Dossier on PTSD in Whistleblowers, for only $3.99, in which I dedicate chapter four entirely to the exploits of Dr. Anna Chacko. 

A source tells me that sometime yesterday afternoon the head of the Pittsburgh VA, Terri Wolf, held a meeting with the radiology department. At that meeting, Ms. Wolfe announced that effectively immediately Dr. Anna Chacko would be on indefinite administrative leave.

If you have been following my work, you need no more information but for those unfamiliar, here's a quick recap. Dr. Anna Chacko is the head of radiology at the Pittsburgh VA. She has been there since October of 2008. Almost immediately, staff in the radiology department began to complain about her behavior. They described her as tyrannical, a serial liar, she refused to do clinical work, and she created an environment of terror and split the department. In March of this year, an "investigative board" was formed. In April of this year, the board recommended that Dr. Chacko be removed. Dr. Chacko then challenged the results. She reached out to Congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina and on May 15th of this year, Congressman Miller sent a letter to General Eric Shinseki, the head of the VA. Weeks later, word came from General Shinseki's office to the Pittsburgh VA to keep Dr. Chacko in her post. She came back to work on August 1st, following a management class she attended.

I then tracked Dr. Chacko all throughout the country and found that her behavior at the Pittsburgh VA was part of a pattern of tyrannical behavior. In fact, I have begun to describe Dr. Chacko as a Psychopath. She worked for fourteen months in Butte, Mt. at St. James Hospital and was involved in four lawsuits and turned a radiology department seven figures in the black into one in the red. She was forcibly removed from Lahey Clinic, where she spent about six years, by security and screamed, "kiss my big Indian ass" on her way out. Many questions remain about all sorts of previous employers including a twenty year military career.

I began writing about Dr. Chacko nearly four weeks ago and so it's unclear what, if any, influence my series has had on this decision. It may or may not be a coincidence that the announcement came less than a day after this piece was posted. At the least, it affirms what I have written. A source also tells me that Dr. Chacko has made veiled threats to sue me. That's to be expected. Dr. Chacko sues in a serial manner. She left Lahey Clinic and a lawsuit settled her departure. One former colleague told me they had a lawyer on retainer during most of their tenure with Dr. Chacko. As I mentioned, Dr. Chacko is involved in no less than four lawsuits in Butte. (not all name her specifically, though two do, but all have her as a principle in evidence) In fact, most, if not all, of her previous employers have settled with Dr. Chacko and that settlement often includes an agreement for both sides to remain quiet. I would point out that any lawsuit against me would give me license to subpoena nearly everything related to all her prior employment endeavors.

It's also important to note that when Dr. Chacko left in April of this year, the language used by management to describe her departure is nearly identical to that used now. Since an "indefinite administrative leave" is so nebulous, Dr. Chacko could never come back to the Pittsburgh VA or she might be back to work on Monday. It's also important to note that her line and voice mail at the VA still work. Because the VA is guarded with "personnel matters", it will be difficult to get any information. The radiology staff was told little besides that effectively immediately Dr. Chacko was on indefinite administrative leave. So, it's not yet clear if this was a local decision, a regional one, or if this decision came from General Shinseki's office directly. I can confirm, however, that formal complaints were made about Dr. Chacko since her return on August 1st and those complaints reached all the way to Michael Moreland, the regional director of the VA that includes this Pittsburgh VA.

That said this story is far from over. If her administrative leave is buried, she will pop up elsewhere and you can bet that she will behave the same way. The entire process has been corrupted. The Pittsburgh VA tried to remove her and they were trumped by the head of the VA. It's unusual, to say the least, for the head of the VA to make a hiring/firing decision for one individual doctor at one individual hospital. Now, the decision has been reversed again. In fact, Dr. Chacko should have never been hired at the Pittsburgh VA to begin with. Her work history, had it been properly examined, should have clearly shown a doctor that had no business at the Pittsburgh VA. So, either someone didn't do their due diligence, or the process didn't allow for proper due diligence. In fact, Dr. Chacko's entire career raises serious questions about numerous legal, whistleblowing, and medical procedures. None of those will be answered if Dr. Chacko's removal is quietly buried and she is simply allowed to surface elsewhere.

UPDATE: The latest information confirmed to me so far is that the administrative board has convened their investigation. I have no information on the results of their investigation. This is, however, the second such board that has investigated Dr. Chacko at the Pittsburgh VA. I have been assured by a source with a great deal of knowledge of the situation that the chances that Dr. Chacko would be allowed back to the Pittsburgh VA are extremely minimal.

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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of this information should go to every state medical board where Chacko is licensed. Her professional societies should also be made aware since most have clauses requiring good moral character.

Mike should also consider sharing this story with a larger audience for example 60 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I personally believe there should be one US medical license. This case points out the problems with the state system. On the one hand a person can get a fresh start in another state. On the other hand a bad apple can keep rolling until he/she runs out of states.

mike volpe said...

Someone suggested a central database though I don't have any information that her license has been revoked by any state. It's also been suggested that in medicine they should outlaw settlements in which both sides must remain silent. I can tell you that if this case was fully explored, there would be a lot of issues raised that could help the medical field. I believe that Dr. Chacko manipulated all sorts of weaknesses in our system and if we can examine this a lot of issues can be brought to the surface.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mike!!
I only hope that Chacko does not 'pop up' somewhere else. Could you circulate your articles to ALL VA hospitals, and maybe to ALL state medical licensing boards, or get some-one else to do it?

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what she tries to do next. What's up her sleeve?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Chacko deserves a fair hearing, with witnesses called and both sides being able to present their cases in a neutral hearing.

Having said that, she will never participate in such a hearing, because she has now lost the upper hand. Up until Mike's account of her history, with people Chacko has lied about, humiliated and ruined, she always found some way to have the upper hand.

I suspect she realizes the jig is up. An innocent person would clamor for a public hearing of some kind. Her silence to date speaks volumes.

mike volpe said...

I'd like a seat at that hearing. To be fair to Dr. Chacko, when I spoke with her she told me that she needed to consult with her attorney before she could speak with me. So, her silence could be at the advice of her attorney. That said, she was quoted in a Montana area article about a year ago and that article was largely positive towards her.
http://www.montanastandard.com/articles/2008/09/04/area/hjjbjajfjjgbea.txt

I don't want to speculate about what she is thinking about right now but I do believe she's a psychopath and I don't think she'll give up without a fight. Either way, there are a lot of people that have a lot to answer for and so this must not get buried. Even if she were to retire quietly that would still leave far too much unanswered. There's a lot still to understand here. I am all for any hearings and even more for them if I'm allowed to attend.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you seem to like Chacko's final words at Lahey. Other than being crass do these words have any special meaning for us?

mike volpe said...

I think like isn't the right term. I certainly like to refer to them. They are crass and that, in and of itself, speaks volumes. It's not professional to swear at the top of your lungs in front of the entire staff of the hospital. So, that's first. Second, when someone is carried out of their employer screaming obscenities, that's inherent evidence that things didn't end well there. That's second. Third, because that was heard by the entire staff, that was easy to confirm.

If you are carried out of your employer by security yelling obscenities that says so much. First, you don't behave. Second, you burnt all bridges. Third, you don't care at all about anyone around you. Fourth, if future employers know about this, they can't possibly hire you.

Anonymous said...

Readers might be interested to know that Lahey's standard procedure when firing someone is to escort them out by security. This makes for a lot of drama and makes it seem like the employee can't be trusted to pack up quietly. This was probably necessary in Chacko's case but is usually corporate and administrative idiocy. Just a small footnote.

I don't know what other hospitals do.

mike volpe said...

I'm not sure if that's true and it's rather irrelevant even if it is. She wasn't simply "escorted out". She was carried out while screaming obscenities at the top of her lungs and scaring the entire hospital. That's a lot different than having security walk with you while you leave quietly which is the way I assume that most are conducted.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't excuse Chacko's crass behavior, but Lahey's procedure vis-a-vis firings and security is also rather idiotic. A similar action just occurred on September 8th. I agree this may be a little irrelevent to Chacko's story, but I just wanted to give some extra background details. Not meant to detract from Mike's points.

Anonymous said...

Aside from Chacko there are several more stories that could come out of Lahey. The best preparation would be to read Kafka.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when politicians get involved in making decisions that should best be left to those who know something about the issue at hand. I believe senator Miller had an axe to grind in his decision based on charges he has against another VA leader. If any information is proved true regarding Chacko, then all these politicians should get a good smack down as well.

Anonymous said...

Over? Done?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like VA Pittsburgh has issues with administration, radiology, legionella etc. Have you considered doing a blog on corruption in the VA? Considering the Obama administration is using the VA as a model, I think it needs to be exposed. Shinseki only seems to do something when he is forced to by the senators/congressmen..look at NY Times article regarding Illinois VA.

A blog about the corruption in Radiology at the Pittsburgh VA would be nice as well for starters...would offer us some insight and other side of the story from an non-biased blogger. Sounds to me like the whole department has issues and Dr.Chacko is at the helm.

Anonymous said...

Moreland should have been terminated. He misleads and gave false testimony to congress. Instead of termination, he was promoted to VISN 4 director. The VA is broken, and is managed by idiots like Moreland.

Anonymous said...

FISCON1 Volpe has a personal vendetta against Chacko. Instead going after the corrupt liberal Pittsburgh VA management which is the real story, he attacks a Veteran, Chacko.

Anonymous said...

Liberal VA management? You must be kidding! Chacko is a lunatic that must be destroyed.