November 12, 2013
Tim Kauffman
[email protected]

AFGE Local Leader Outlines Chronic Problems at VA Hospital in Jackson, MS

WASHINGTON – Chronic understaffing, nepotism and other harmful management practices are impacting patient care and employee morale at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Jackson, Miss., the American Federation of Government Employees local union president told a House panel today.

AFGE Local 589 President Charles Jenkins testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding a history of management failures at the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center.

Since 2003, Local 589 has requested corrective action to address severe short staffing of nursing personnel in a number of inpatient areas that has resulted in frequent patient falls and other patient harm, Jenkins testified.

“Management has been very slow to respond and has not taken sufficient action to resolve the problem,” Jenkins said. Fourteen patients fell during the month of September alone, the local has learned.

AFGE also has filed multiple requests to the VISN Director and Medical Center Director to investigate instances of nepotism involving the Associate Director of Patient Care Services and several Deputy Associate Directors hiring their own family members for nursing positions. Management waited more than a year to launch an investigation, which is still ongoing.

VA leaders also have failed to hold management accountable for privacy breaches and manipulation of enrollment data involving My HealtheVet, the VA’s online personal health record system. Local 589 asked management to investigate actions by a service chief that resulted in employees gaining unauthorized access to the account in order to artificially boost enrollment numbers for the hospital. Management conducted an investigation in May of this year but has yet to report any findings to the union.

A copy of Jenkins’ testimony can be found here:

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