Yesterday morning at 6:30 AM Mountain Time, the radiology department at St. James Hospital in Butte, Montana received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as Dr. Weiman from the VA Hospital in Fresno, California. Dr. Weiman asked for a reference for Dr. Anna Chacko. Dr. Chacko had spent time as the head of radiology at St. James from July of 2007 to September of 2008. Giving a reference, however, was not so simple for the individual at the receiving end of the phone call. That's because Dr. Chacko and St. James Hospital had completed litigation that included a confidentiality agreement that barred St. James or anyone there to make any "disparaging statements" against Dr. Chacko. With that clause in place, there was little the individual on the receiving end could say. Without this clause, there was probably plenty of stories that could be told about Dr. Chacko's time at St. James Hospital. The clause limited what this, or any employee of St. James could say, and so the call was brief.
It's been about a month since last I featured the tribulations of Dr. Chacko and so when this information was passed along the story was of interest. The last time Dr. Chacko was featured, she was on indefinite administrative leave pending a investigation of the administrative board of the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The VA Hospital in Pittsburgh was Dr. Chacko's next stop following her time in Butte, Montana. She arrived there in October of 2008. The investigative board in September would be her second regarding her behavior there. Dr. Chacko was the subject of a series of complaints from members of her department that ranged from lying, threatening behavior, tyrannical behavior, and a refusal to do clinical work. Dr. Chacko would have almost certainly been removed from her position there last spring had it not been for the extraordinary behavior of Congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina and General Eric Shinseki, the head of the VA system. That's because Congressman Miller stepped in on behalf of Dr. Chacko on May 15th of this year and wrote a letter to General Shinseki himself. Weeks later word came down from Shinseki's office to keep Dr. Chacko in place despite repeated complaints about her. Upon her return the same pattern occurred, the same complaints occurred and finally Dr. Chacko was put on administrative leave.
While I can confirm the administrative board has concluded the investigation, I can't confirm what charges, specifically, were brought nor its disposition. In fact, the only thing I can confirm is that the VA system will never, ever, confirm anything themselves. I can also confirm that neither Congressman Miller nor General Shinseki have returned repeated correspondence to explain their behavior in the matter. In fact, none of what you are reading would ever come out had I followed the chain of command of the VA system. I've relied strictly on outside channels for information. Neither the Fresno VA nor the General Shinseki's office would confirm if in fact Dr. Chacko was going to interview for a position yesterday (which according to the purported Dr. Weiman was scheduled for 1 PM PST)
If in fact, this Dr. Weiman is legitimate then we are dealing with a VA scandal of unseen proportions. That's because Dr. Anna Chacko is a Psychopath. Her documented Psychopathic behavior goes back decades and it has been documented in both of the investigative boards brought by the Pittsburgh VA. If, despite this documented evidence, the Fresno VA allowed for an interview, then we have a VA system that is both corrupt and broken. In fact, it's unclear why the purported Dr. Weiman was calling St. James and not the Pittsburgh VA. Given Dr. Chacko's behavior not only at the Pittsburgh VA but throughout her career, it is not only unacceptable but downright scary that she could possibly be granted an interview anywhere let alone at a hospital that treats our veterans.
Of course, all of this is supposition. That's because it's not entirely clear that this Dr. Weiman exists or that in fact Dr. Chacko was going to interview with the Fresno VA. There's no search that produces a Dr. Weiman at the Fresno VA and no one will deny or confirm that Dr. Chacko was in fact going to interview there. So, either she is interviewing there, or someone is fraudulenty acting like a doctor in the VA system. Either way, there's a serious problem that we should all expect the VA system to address.
That's why this cone of silence is that much more stunning. The VA has a standard policy not to discuss internal employment issues. That's both troubling and ironic given that in Congressman Miller's three page letter to General Shinseki he said this.
there is something very wrong in the management of the VAPHS (the area of the VA system that includes Pittsburgh)
So, a Congressman from North Carolina can make explosive and disparaging accusations about the management team in the Pittsburgh VA to the head of the VA, but the VA system doesn't feel as though they have any duty to confirm or deny whether or not a documented Psychopath is about to be interviewed for a job in one of their hospitals.
In fact, the entire journey, so to speak of Dr. Anna Chacko is the poster child for transparency. The confidentiality agreement signed between Dr. Chacko and St. James Hospital is similar to one signed between Dr. Chacko and almost every single former employer including the military (Dr. Chacko spent about two decades in the military). Try and get her military records and you'll be greeted with a similar comment to the one given at St. James. That's not only unfortunate but tragic. That's because if the history of Dr. Anna Chacko were opened to the public the public would see a pattern of blackmail, lies, threats, intimidation, and abuse that left former colleagues with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, some on the verge of suicide, and it left nearly each and every one of her places of employment in total chaos. (the radiology department at St. James for instance went from seven figures in the black to the red and all the radiologists quit with her)
If the story of Dr. Chacko were transparent her reign of terror would have ended decades ago. Instead, our legal system, our government system and weak and cowardly politicians have created their own cone of silence that has protected Dr. Chacko from having to face the truth about herself. It's also continued a pattern of behavior in which future employers have had her unleash herself while they were naive as to what she really is. The behavior of the VA system has been nothing short of appalling on this matter. Under no circumstances should Dr. Chacko ever been hired by the Pittsburgh VA. She had been in both Boston and in Montana all in the previous two years. That would have meant that Dr. Chacko (then 63) would have been moving cross country for a third time in three years. That should have raised all sorts of red flags. Furthermore, there was enough news on the internet about her time in Butte to raise more red flags. Still, she was hired and then kept in place despite the Pittsburgh VA's desire to remove her by the head of the system himself, General Eric Shinseki.
Throughout, the VA system has made the process non transparent. Congressman Miller didn't put his letter on his House website. He never shared this letter with his constituency. In fact, I'm sure he never wanted anyone beside its receiver to know he wrote it. Talk about non tranparent. A Congressman from North Carolina takes the extraordinary step of commenting on the hiring and firing of the Pittsburgh VA and he does it hoping no one will know. General Shinseki didn't call the New York Times, the Washington Post, or any Pittsburgh media to explain his decision when he kept Dr. Chacko in place. In fact, he did it knowing the VA policy meant that information about his extraordinary power play would likely never reach the media. To this day, none of the parties responsible for bring Dr. Chacko to Pittsburgh or keeping her in Pittsburgh long past the time she needed to be removed have ever explained their action. I've been transferred to no less than five staffers in Miller's office though the last time when Dr. Chacko's name was revealed the staffer knew exactly who to transfer me to.
Meanwhile, confidentiality agreements mean that no hospital can share with the media anything about Dr. Chacko's behavior there. As such no one can know just how much a terror she is. She can move onto the next hospital with her next set of unsuspecting victims. In fact, when I wrote about Lahey Clinic (her employer for 6 years), most of the staff there were far more worried about what that story meant for their own career then they were about the fact that the Pittsburgh VA were dealing with the same behavior that they were consumed by for six years. When I reached out to a former employee of Lahey now working elsewhere, their first call was to Lahey to make sure it was all right to talk to me. That's because Lahey, like St. James also signed a confidentiality agreement guaranteeing that Dr. Chacko's professional career would continue to be as non transparent as possible.
Dr. Chacko knows all too well what a transparent review of her work history would mean. So, the VA system's policy of non disclosure of employment issues suits her just fine. If the media doesn't know what she's up to, no one can disclose any of her behavior. So, we are back at the present. Either a documented Psychopath was granted an interview at the Fresno VA and no one wants to confirm this or explain how this could happen, or someone committed fraud using the purported identity of a government employee. In either case the VA system is more committed to maintaining their policy, which in this case only helped prop up a psychopath, then trying to determine the truth. The fact that a documented Psychopath may be interviewing to take care of Veterans or that someone is committing fraud using the identy of a government employee is apparently less important than protecting their policy. If ever there was a case that screamed for the need for more transparency it was the case of Dr. Anna Chacko.
Here's the definitive dossier of Dr. Chacko.