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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Miller and Chacko

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

The Pittsburgh Tribune has the story.

A letter to Shinseki from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., centers on allegations from a former VA physician who says he was forced out of the agency in retaliation for raising questions about money for brain injuries, the "signature injury" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reports 10 percent to 20 percent of troops with combat exposure there suffered concussions from roadside bombs.

Then, there are parallels drawn between this and Dr. Anna Chacko.

Van Boven's case appears to parallel that of radiologist Anna Chacko, who says VA officials ousted her from her post at the Pittsburgh VA facility in Oakland after she questioned spending and treatment practices.

I'm left confused. After all in May of 2009, the same Congressman Miller said this of Dr. Anna Chacko.

Senate Letter 2009-05-19[1][1][1] -

Then as Chacko was about to get terminated in January of this year, he said this.

He said that assuming the VA followed proper procedures in Chako's termination, he did not plan further involvement.

Chacko had been suspended from her job in the spring but was reinstated in late summer, only to be placed on administrative leave in October. The termination letter was issued last week.

While they have declined to comment on the issues leading to Chacko's suspension and termination, VA officials said an internal investigation refuted claims by Chacko that patient care might have been compromised by excessive radiation during treatments.

So, does Congressman Miller think that proper procedures were followed in the case of Dr. Chacko? It was apparently neither asked or answered. Miller does hint at it in the latest article.

Miller said told the Tribune-Review he is troubled by "an emerging pattern" of VA administrators using boards of inquiry to punish and silence whistleblowers.
"I would encourage the VA to look into whether the process is being abused," he said.
If that's the case why didn't he step in before Chacko was fired? That was also neither asked nor answered. Here is the statement from Senator Burr's office about the "emerging pattern" that Congressman Miller spoke about.

The “emerging pattern” that Rep. Miller referenced in his comments to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review were made independently of the specific issues raised jointly by Sen. Burr and Rep. Miller in the letter to Gen. Shinseki. I strongly suggest you take up your concerns with Rep. Miller’s staff as they may have more insight into the reasoning for Rep. Miller’s comments.

Here's the full letter that Burr and Miller drafted to Shinseki and Chacko is not mentioned in it. Both Shinseki and Miller's office have yet to respond for comment.

Shinseki Ltr

Here's the full dossier of Anna Chacko.


Anonymous said...

The Administrative Boards within the VA are always designated to find in favor of the administration- it's fixed. This guy, van Boven never had a chance-He probably is deluded in thinking that at the VA there are ethical people in the administration- not so. So, even if Chacko is the most horrible person in the world- she still deserves an impartial hearing and which she likely did not get. Trust me, VA policy- nobody does. This is their trump on anybody who tries to fight them- they will never a get fair hearing- which is what Miller, et al. know from countless other cases.
The likely reason that the first administration board hearing was nullified is that they missed something in the procedure- and that invalidated it and she had an EEO. So in fact, reinstating her actually helped them (likely, the people in CO helped them here- yes, Shinseki wasn't helping her) to regroup and think of a fault proof tactic. The fact that she signed paper work to settle her EEO on 9/1 with nullification of the first ABI and any evidence to prove any discrimination- and then on 9/3 they told her a second ABI would be performed tells you that the administrators where planning a very deliberate strategy.

In light of this it likely means that had Chacko cooperated with Melman and Jain- who are cut from the same cloth- she would still be sitting pretty in Pittsburgh- regardless of what she did or did not do in her years as a radiologist. She didn't lose her job because she blackmailed somebody in Boston 10 years before, she didn't lose her job because she yealled at a resident at Lahey. The only reason she lost her job is that she took on Melman and Jain- that's the reason.
Whether or not this is legitimate is to determined by the Office of Special Counsel- who I hope looks at the fact carefully. As an example, please read up on Earlene Johnson in ST. Louis, she filed an EEO against her bosses for discrimination- she was fired. In addition, she informed them that sterilizion process was putting vets at risk. Instead of listening to what she said- they got rid of her faster. VA thinking is "Who cares if vets are infected with HIV or Hepatitis- this woman filed an EEO and she must be punished to the maximum extent possible."

Also as far as IG reports are concerned- the are always whitewashed. In fact, the people in the IG office inform the VISN directors of what they are investigating the VISN directors then inform the people being investigated- so that they can get their stories straight. In some instances the VISN director actually partipates in retailiation of the people who called the IG office.

Imagine Chacko running a VISN- with everything - attorneys, IG, and multiple lackeys at her disposal- then you can imagine how each medical center, VISN and how the VA is run. It's filled with Chacko like people.

mike volpe said...

I don't think you know why Chacko was removed. I definitely don't think that Chacko has ever really been a victim.

That said, the testimony that got her removed showed a pattern of behavior that is exactly the same as the pattern she has exhibited her whole career.

This misdirection won't change reality. Chacko abused the staff, disrupted the staff, and made the work environment terrorizing, and that's why she was removed, and it's the same as what has happened in all her previous jobs.

Anonymous said...

Mike you state-
"Chacko abused the staff, disrupted the staff, and made the work environment terrorizing, and that's why she was removed, and it's the same as what has happened in all her previous jobs."
So what?
Most VA are run in this same fashion-(abuse staff and work environment terrorizing) She actually has the key characteristics of successful top administrators at the VA. A VISN 12administrators is known to toss furniture about and to scream at people who file EEO- "DO you know who the ----- I am?" Apparently this art therapy major doesn't understand the basics of managerial training and has plenty of little people catering and enabling to his "Mel Gibson like tantrum."
The problem with VA hospitals is that no legitimate people who care about vets is in any position of authority- if you are honest, hardworking ethical and if you read the Hippocatic Oath- there is absolutely no way that you can last. To last, you have to participate in illegal and unethical behavior- YES, illegal and unethical behavior. Whether its covering up gross medical errors or lying about some else to get them fired.
Hopefully, the senators and congresspeople who are watching from the sidelines will have novel and innovative ways to neuter these groups of "sociopathic" administrators at the VA.

mike volpe said...

Right. Clearly, you weren't a target of the abuse. Trying to make broader points about the VA is misdirection. This is about Chacko, this is about her behavior, and this is about her behavior for decades.

Coming on here with this rhetoric won't change that. This is the same exact comment as what I have received from the beginning in the defense of Chacko. It's always that the VA is bad, she fought the system, and that's why she was fired. I simply have too good a sources to believe it.

Anonymous said...

I hope your source of why she got fired doesn't work at Pittsburgh VAMC- that would be "parroting" what Melman and Jain want them to.
Also "fighting" the system- is fighting Melman and Jain only, who also apparently have their personality flaws. Anyway you cut it- there would be no story if Chacko hadn't fought with Melman and Jain- even if she terrorized everybody else at hundreds of jobs. In fact, I think her behavior actually got her the job in the first place.
I am not defending her, or what she did- but it is evident that there are those of us who see it from the outside and who understand how the VA is run- it is evident and simply stated that the only thing that got her fired was her oppositional behavior to Melman and Jain.

mike volpe said...

As anyone knows, a journalist has a duty to protect sources so I won't say any more about them.

You seem to make an awful lot of accusations about Melman, interestingly, that's Chacko's most high profile target in the VA.

I think it's cute that you think you can come here and think that if you challenge me long enough that this will somehow make all the difference. It won't. I've laid out what she's done both in and out of the VA and the audience can decide if they believe it.

Anonymous said...

Who do you think set up the two ABIs- Melman, Jain and the Med ctr director- nothing happens without these people. Even if she killed somebody without them deciding to look for a underlying reason to get rid of her, nothing would have happened. These three people on board stating "its a go" was all that was necessary to schedule these ABI. To ascribe some sort of "ethical" motives to their decision to fire her is where the analysis is flawed. Regardless of to whether or she threatened or bullied anybody else, had she maintained good relations with these three she would not have been fired- that's all I am saying.

mike volpe said...

I got it. Melman is corrupt and evil and that's why we shouldn't pay attention to anything Chacko did. She must have been right since Melman is corrupt and that of course is a fact.

Interestingly enough, the very first comment about any Chacko story said this. All future Chacko defenses said this and no matter what I discovered all future defenses said this. Like I said, I think it's cute that you think if you continue to say this that it will change someone minds.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate all the work you did and find it interesting- I don't mean at all to be disrespectful or "cute" to you or your sources.
I do not know any of these people- but I find the situation comical- and being in the medical profession, its sounds like people just don't like each other- for very good reasons- they are all total lunatics- Chacko, Melman, Jain and the Medical Center director. Chacko though should not be the only person who is subjected to being scrutinized regardless.
I just want to add with that in mind and not single anybody out, given that Melman ordered the destuction all those strains of Legionella- that took 30 years to collect- tells anybody in medicine that she is likely not dealing with a complete deck of cards. As a matter of fact, I find it hard to believe anyone could defend such irresponsible acts- friend or foe.

mike volpe said...

Yes, I know. Melham is bad and it's because of the destroyed legionella. That's the exact same comment as the very first comment in my first Chacko piece.

So, like I said, no matter what I report the Chacko defense is the same.

In politics, we refer to this as talking points.

Anonymous said...

For me- as someone observing without anything to gain one way or the other- I see it as 4 nuts working at the VA get into an disagreement and argue. But its three against one. Three with all the power,experience and attorneys to color the discussion the way they want. So who is going to win- the people in power- even if Chacko was saint- she would have gotten fired. This gets to why the cabal won- they control the mechanism to fight Chacko more effectively. Same thing with that guy - Van Boven- from all appearances, he sounded the alarm about fraud, but the people with the power wanted all that money for their "friends" and "special projects"- so they had to get rid of him, their weapon then was an ABI and false allegations- Voila- with him completely out of the picture- they control all that money- so what if its not used for what it was allocated for.

All this reminds me of that saying "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Which I think is the resonding theme for Chacko, et al.
In this case, these two opposing parties found their equal match. May the most skillful win. Believe it or not I look forward to seeing the events unfold further. I think ultimately, Chacko has a chance to persevere, because she has single handly outmaneuver three very powerful people with all their attorneys, experience and ABIs, etc, she's still kicking. And she could get a few people to change a few laws- which could significantly and definitely influence the game as it is played by the VA.
Not somebody to admire but definitely Not somebody to ever cross-
I look forward to your blogging on this subject with the utmost respect.

mike volpe said...

Another thing Chacko is not is the least powerful person in any room. She was able to employ not only a Congressman but the head of the VA on her behalf and then you say she was weak. We all know that she's close personal friend of former VA head James Peake.

Look, I won't say you are Anna Chacko. I'll just say you've mastered her talking points.

Anonymous said...

Touche. I will consider that something of a compliment- I never thought I was that devious. I love you too. Best

Anonymous said...

Mike, the letter to Gen. Shinseki is about a case of misappropriation of funds for brain injury not the Chacko case. The similarity of the 2 cases is the VA's use of ABI, police escorts, etc to silence whistle blowers. Chacko was a whistle blower as she extensively documented in her submissions to the Congress and Senate.

You continue to claim that she was fired for abuse, etc. based on your sources at the VA. The reality of her employment was that she was a 2-year probationary employee with very little authority. Dr. Melham retained for herself most of the authority a Chief of Radiology would normally have in a hospital. Dr. Chacko did not have the power to sign leave forms for her employees, reprimand anyone for bad behavior toward the other employees, etc. She also met weekly with her boss, Dr. Melham, and/or Dr. Jain, the Chief of Staff, to discuss events in the Radiology dept. and the plans for the following week. One or both of these individuals at the meetings approved each activity. All was proceeding well until Dr. Chacko reported to Drs Jain and Melham that one of Dr. Melham's friends was imaged in the VA on Dr Melham's order after the friend fell at her home on the previous day. This care was in direct violation of VA regulations concerning medical treatment for non-veteran employees. Other problems in the department were the falsification of time sheets, discrimination against the Caucasian Radiologists (they were paid $75,000 or more less than the non-Caucasians even though the Caucasians were better qualified and worked longer hours), waste of millions of taxpayers’ money for the purchase of unnecessary equipment, and other issues detailed to the Senate and Congress. I would suggest that your sources at the VA are part of the repressive measures the VA uses to silence whistle blowers.
I am Caucasian myself and feel that discrimination in the work place is wrong as it creates inefficiency and is against the law.

mike volpe said...

First of all, I never said I had sources in the Pitt VA. I have sources. We'll leave it there.

Second, I've published Chacko's memo and so I don't need her or any of her cronies regurgitating it here. We can all find it.

These are typical Chacko talking points. Everyone is a two year probationary employee and so if Chacko didn't know that, who's fault is that?

Second, Chacko is good friends with James Peake. She's able to employ Congressman Brad Miller and General Shinseki so spare me the poor victim. Chacko is the most powerful person in any room.

Anonymous said...

try this site to verify the salaries.

Does anyone know where we can get board certification information?

I was always under the impression, Americans make more money than foriegn born doctors. Wonder why such a reverse disparity!!

Anonymous said...

It looks as though Anna Chacko is doing a fellowship now in orthopedic MRI.

mike volpe said...

It appears Dr. Chacko is trying to get a fellowship at least, though it doesn't appear as though she has found a specific one yet.

Someone in their mid sixties should be retiring not getting more training that a fellowship provides and so that action speaks for itself.

Anonymous said... the USA someone like this can still be fooling so many people...even the Congress and high ranking Military Officers. Ask those who worked with her at BAMC...I saw first hand her psychopathic behavior. It took me a long time to get over having known her. I do not worry though, because if she comes to the South, these good ol boys can send her back to India...and they won't kiss her big Indian ass