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Director of VA Hospital Fired for Misconduct After Wait-Time Scandal

Veterans Affairs
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• May 2, 2017 11:29 am

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The director of a Veterans Affairs hospital in Louisiana has been fired for misconduct and failure to follow policy after serving a scandal-ridden three years in his position.

Toby Mathew was hired as director of the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana in June 2014.

Four months later, in October, reports surfaced that patients would routinely go days without sheets, pajamas, or proper toiletries "while the hospital spent millions on new furniture, TVs, and solar panels," Fox News reported Tuesday.

The VA hospital was then investigated after social worker Shea Wilkes discovered a secret wait-list of 2,700 names in 2013. Included on the list were 37 veterans who had died awaiting care.

Mathew was fired this year on April 13 for "charges related to general misconduct, and failure to follow policy and provide effective oversight of the center's credentialing and privileging program," according to an internal VA memo obtained by Fox News.

Lawmakers learned of the hospital's issues under Mathew last year. A high-ranking doctor followed the example of Wilkes, who became a high-profile advocate for whistleblowers, and wrote a 16-page report dated September 2, 2016, sending it to then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald and two members of Congress.

The report, reviewed by Fox News, alleged that Mathew had "a constant pattern of bullying, intimidation, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation" against staff and negatively affected the careers of 55 employees.

"Nursing service has had critical positions vacant during the two-year tenure of Toby Mathew, with vacancy rates as high as 50 percent for nurse assistants and constant 30 percent for registered nurses," the report stated, noting that Mathew refused to fill the positions.

Mathew also hired consultants during his tenure, sometimes paying $10,500 a month, more than the yearly salary of most VA physicians, according to the report.

Mathew is the highest-profile employee fired from the VA since Eric Shinseki, the seventh department secretary, left office in May 2014.

Published under: Louisiana, Veterans, Veterans Affairs