UPDATE: 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.
Introduction: This is the latest installment in my series about Dr. Anna Chacko. Dr. Chacko is currently the head of radiology at the Pittsburgh VA. She's been at the Pittsburgh VA since October of 2008. Almost immediately, according to sources I spoke to in a position to know, staff at the VA hospital began complaining about her behavior. They described her as tyrannical, a liar, an incompetent, she refused to do required clinical work, she divided the radiology department, and she created an environment of fear. Let me be clear. This is not me saying it, but rather this is her colleagues saying it. In March of 2009, an "investigative board" was formed. This is a mechanism which the VA system uses to discipline doctors and staff. In April of 2009, the investigative board recommended that Dr. Chacko be removed. Dr. Chacko challenged the results. She then reached out to Democratic Congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina. Congressman Miller had investigated the same Pittsburgh VA on a different matter two years prior. In that investigation, Miller investigated the destruction of a rare strand of legionella. On May 15, Congressman Miller wrote a letter to General Shinseki, the head of the VA, in support of Dr. Chacko. Within two to three weeks of that later, sources tell me that word came down from Shinseki or his office and Dr. Chacko was reinstated. Following a management class, Dr. Chacko came back to work on August 1st of this year. According to my sources, things have gotten even worse since then.
Prior to working at the Pittsburgh VA, Dr. Chacko worked at St. James Hospital in Butte, Mt. She spent fourteen months there. Her time there included four lawsuits. The radiology department was seven figures in the black prior to her arrival, and was deep in the red upon her departure. The CEO of the hospital, James Kiser, most responsible for hiring her left six months into her tenure citing a need for "a change of leadership". When she left, she took the other three radiologists she brought in with her.
Beyond this, I have spoken with former colleagues of Dr. Chacko from places like Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, Butte, and New Mexico and they have described a pattern of behavior that has lead me to conclude that Dr. Chacko is in fact a Psychopath. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Others have spent hundreds of thousands in legal bills defending themselves against suits filed by Dr. Chacko. Most if not all remain scarred from the experience of working for and with her even years later. Also, Dr. Chacko's main defender at the Pittsburgh VA is Dr. Bob Shah. Dr. Chacko and Dr. Shah have worked together since the 1990's. The've worked together in Texas, Boston, Butte, and in the Pittsburgh VA. (Dr. Chacko spent two decades in the military earning the rank of Colonel) They are both in the 60's and yet over the last three years they've worked together at the Boston University Medical Center in Boston, St. James Hospital in Butte, Mt. and at the Pittsburgh VA. Finally, sources from Lahey Clinic, where Dr. Chacko worked for nearly six years and the Pittsburgh VA tell me that Dr. Chacko is very good friends with Lt. General James Peake, the head of the VA previous to General Shinseki. The same sources tell me that their relationship goes back nearly two decades
I have on numerous occasions reached out to both Congressman Brad Miller and General Shinseki by both email and phone and neither has responded to repeated requests. My sources at the Pittsburgh VA tell me that General Shinseki is aware of the series and is "unhappy" that his name is constantly mentioned. I don't know if Congressman Miller is aware of my articles though I have forwarded several asking for comment. So, since neither is willing to speak to me YET, I will do a thought experiment and here are the questions that I would ask each if I could get them or their staff on the phone. Some questions I would ask of both and I will indicate as such for those.
1) My sources tell me that Dr. Chacko was reinstated upon your orders or at least orders of your office. Is this correct or am I wrong? If I'm wrong, why have you allowed for article after article to smear you without correcting the record?
2) Is it appropriate for the head of the VA system to override the Pittsburgh VA in hiring matters at the Pittsburgh VA? The Pittsburgh VA was ready to remove Dr. Chacko until you stepped in. Do you make a habit of micromanaging the hiring decisions of individual VA hospitals? Do you think such a leadership style is effective?
3)(this question goes to both Miller and Shinseki) My sources tell me that at the "investigative board" six of the fourteen members of the radiology department testified against Dr. Chacko. Once she challenged the results, she was given access to the testimony. If in fact, I'm right and Dr. Chacko is a Psychopath, do you understand the position you have put all those that testified against her in? Do you understand the terror that the workplace is for all those that testified against her? Do you care? Are you doing anything to correct this?
4)By now most of the Pittsburgh VA hospital has read all my pieces. My statcounter can confirm that. Even if nothing I've said is accurate, isn't it true that the proverbial waters are poisoned there? How can Dr. Chacko effectively lead the radiology department when each and every person she leads has read a series of stories that depict her as a Psychopath? No matter what, wouldn't you agree that given that what I have written has been read by most of the hospital, Dr. Chacko can no longer work there?
5) Did you consult with General James Peake prior to deciding that Dr. Chacko should be kept in place? How much do you know about their relationship? Are they friends or is their relationship more complicated than that? If it's more complicated, were you at all suspect of what he told you?
6) Are you aware that Dr. Chacko has lived and worked in Boston, Butte, Mt. and Pittsburgh all in the last three years? Are you aware that Dr. Chacko moved to Butte from Boston and fourteen months later moved to the Pittsburgh VA? Given that five months into her tenure, the Pittsburgh VA wanted her removed, doesn't her work history lend credence to the Pittsburgh VA's decision to remove her? What criteria did you use to keep her in place?
7) Do you know how Dr. Chacko's military career ended? Did it end amicably or was she forcibly removed?
8) Are you at all concerned that Dr. Shah, her only defender at the Pittsburgh VA, has worked with her at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, Lahey Clinic in Boston, the BU Medical Center in Boston, St. James Hospital in Butte, Mt. and the Pittsburgh VA? I believe their relationship is untoward. Did you examine this relationship at all before you decided to keep both of them in place?
9) Has Dr. Chacko approached you about having her company Moly99Montana being the supplier of technetium for the VA system? Given that she is an employee of the Pittsburgh VA would this be an appropriate relationship to have?
10) If I am right, and Dr. Chacko is a Psychopath, a person with no conscience, and you subverted the authority of the Pittsburgh VA and kept her in place, how can you justify continuing to head of the VA? If after a full investigation I am proven correct, would you agree to step down?
Congressman Brad Miller
1) In your letter to General Shinseki you called your action in writing the letter "unusual". Under what authority do you believe you can weigh in on the hiring and firing decisions of the Pittsburgh VA?
2) How does helping Dr. Chacko, a radiologist in the Pittsburgh VA, help the constituents of the 13th District of North Carolina? What do you tell a citizen of Raleigh, North Carolina if they ask you why you stepped in and weighed into a hiring decision at the Pittsburgh VA?
3) I used Google for five minutes and I discovered that Dr. Chacko was involved in four lawsuits in Butte, spent fourteen months there, and left with her entire team. How much research did you do about Dr. Chacko before concluding that it was "unfounded" that Dr. Chacko's leadership was affecting performance at the Pittsburgh VA?
4) Are you following my stories? Are you at all concerned that you stuck up for someone that should have been fired? Are you doing anything now to rectify the situation? Are you doing anything? Do you feel any responsibility for the nightmare of all those that testified against Dr. Chacko?
5)Did you speak to anyone at the Pittsburgh VA before deciding to write that letter? A source tells me that they called your office anonymously and spent a long time on the phone with an aide of yours and told them in detail about Dr. Chacko's disruptive behavior. Is this accurate? Your letter appeared one sided. Did you try and get the other side before writing the letter?
6) Are you aware of Kristi George's civil suit against Dr. Chacko? Ms. George was a former colleague of Dr. Chacko at St. James Hospital. She alleges that Dr. Chacko lied about her in an attempt to get her fired. That suit was wrapping up when you wrote the letter. Did you attempt to reach out to Ms. George before writing the letter? You assert that claims that department's performance had "begun to suffer under Chacko's leadership" were unfounded? Wouldn't Ms. George's claims along with the complaints of some in the Pittsburgh VA create a pattern of behavior of a doctor who's leadership is in doubt?
7) You also assert in your letter that there were issues of fairness in the removal of Dr. Chacko. My sources say the same thing but in fact that's procedural. Isn't the proper course to then convene another board and present evidence again in a fair way and not to simply give Dr. Chacko her job back? In other words, the problem wasn't the evidence against Dr. Chacko but rather the way in which it was presented. Wouldn't the right course be to allow the Pittsburgh VA to present the evidence again and consider her removal? My sources tell me the Pittsburgh VA was prepared to do this when word came down from Shinseki's office to keep Dr. Chacko in place.
8) You headed an investigation about a destroyed strand of legionella from the same Pittsburgh VA. You found several of the administration, Dr. Mona Melham, Dr. Jain included, at fault. Most are still with the VA. If in fact I am right and Dr. Chacko is a Psychopath, can't you now see that she would know this and use it to her advantage to "play you"? In other words, isn't it possible that Dr. Chacko seeked you out knowing that if she told you that the same doctors that you found at fault were targeting her that you would be sympathetic to such a story? Doesn't it give you pause that it's possible that you allowed a Psychopath to play you? If that's not accurate, how did it come about that you stepped into this situation?
9) If after a full investigation I am proven correct and Dr. Chacko is a Psychopath and you subverted the system to keep her in her place, is it really appropriate for you to still remain a public servant?
Here's the definitive dossier on Dr. Chacko.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"