President Obama’s deputy chief of staff is visiting an Illinois VA hospital accused of putting veterans on off-the-books waiting lists. One of the whistleblowers that met with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors Friday was Germaine Clarno, a social worker at the Hines VA Hospital in Maywood. Clarno says since the problems with long waiting lists for veterans have become publicized, more of her colleagues have been willing to speak up, but some still feel intimidated.
“I think we would’ve had more employees today, but the conference room they gave us was down the hall from the director’s office, where there’s a camera, so I think people were leery of coming up and talking,” Clarno said.
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U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) says the first step to solving the problems at Hines is getting rid of the hospital’s director, Joan Ricard, and he has told her that face-to-face.
“Actually, I suggested to her that she get a criminal lawyer to defend her against the coming FBI investigation which I’m gonna recommend,” Kirk said.
Kirk says Hines has been mismanaged under Ricard, citing employees who claim she has ignored problems with everything from waiting lists to mold growing in an operating room.