West Virginia VA hospital employee says he was targeted after reporting concerns over serial killer

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An employee at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W.Va., has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was targeted for reporting patient care and management problems at the facility and concerns over a serial killer, according to WVNews.

Attorney Robert Bastress III filed the lawsuit Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of West Virginia on behalf of plaintiff Gregory Bee. Defendants are the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Robert Wilkie, secretary of the VA.

Mr. Bee, a U.S. Army veteran, claims the hospital targeted him after he reported concerns about management practices, including policies regarding insulin, the security and storage of insulin, the administration of insulin and hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia.

Mr. Bee began working as a timekeeper in the hospital's patient care services department in 2015 and was responsible for maintaining the standard operating procedures for the Clarksburg VA, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Bee said he was told in 2018 to make changes to existing insulin/hypoglycemia policies, which he contends were part of an attempt to address "issues central to the Clarksburg VA's failures" involving serial killer Reta Mays. Ms. Mays, a former nursing aide who worked during the night shift from 2015 to 2018, used insulin to kill seven patients. Ms. Mays was a deemed a "person of interest" in the deaths of at least three of the patients in October 2019 and pleaded guilty to seven murder charges in July 2020.

Among other claims, Mr. Bee alleges a false allegation of sexual harassment was made against him and that he was suspended in September 2018 for being 15 minutes late to work once in August 2018. Mr. Bee also alleges that in June 2020, hospital upper management removed the "recission" category from the standard operating procedures, which would have shown that the policy was initially issued in August 2018.

"In hindsight, it is now clear that plaintiff's knowledge of the change in SOPs related to insulin/hypoglycemia and his refusal to kowtow to upper management caused the Clarksburg VA's administrators to view him with serious concern, given the sensitive nature of that information and the desire of the Clarksburg VA's management to keep the unfavorable and horrific episode of the serial killer and the murdered veterans shielded from public view and scrutiny," the lawsuit states.

Mr. Bee, who has been suspended without pay since April 2019, seeks back wages and fringe benefits as well as compensatory damages.

In response to the lawsuit, hospital spokesperson Wesley Walls told Becker's Hospital Review the "VA encourages employees to identify problems and will not tolerate any efforts to retaliate against those individuals."

"But identifying as a whistleblower doesn't automatically give credence to someone's claims nor does it shield them from accountability when they have failed to uphold VA's values.

"We would be happy to respond to these allegations in detail, but in order to do so, we need the individual's written consent to discuss their complete work history."

The VA had not received consent as of Sept. 3.

 

 

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