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VA wants to fire two accused of manipulating data

By: The Associated Press
July 30, 2014 Updated: July 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm
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photo - Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner testifies before a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. A federal investigative agency is examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the Department of Veterans Affairs against employees who filed whistleblower complaints--including 25 complaints filed since June 1, after a growing health care scandal involving long patient waits and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics became public. The independent Office of Special Counsel said 30 of the complaints about retaliation have passed the initial review stage and were being further investigated for corrective action and possible discipline against VA supervisors and other executives. The complaints were filed in 28 states at 45 separate facilities, Lerner said. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner testifies before a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. A federal investigative agency is examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the Department of Veterans Affairs against employees who filed whistleblower complaints--including 25 complaints filed since June 1, after a growing health care scandal involving long patient waits and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics became public. The independent Office of Special Counsel said 30 of the complaints about retaliation have passed the initial review stage and were being further investigated for corrective action and possible discipline against VA supervisors and other executives. The complaints were filed in 28 states at 45 separate facilities, Lerner said. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) 

DENVER - The Veterans Affairs Department said it wants to fire two supervisors accused of manipulating health care data in Colorado and Wyoming.

The VA said Tuesday that four other employees face suspension, demotion or admonishment.

The firings would be the strongest discipline handed out since May in a nationwide scandal over falsifying records on how long veterans wait to get care at VA hospitals and clinics.

Three executives of the Phoenix VA hospital were placed on leave on May 1, and Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson has said they will be fired. The scandal also forced out former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

One of the six facing discipline is Ralph Gigliotti, who oversees VA health care facilities in all or parts of nine states in the Rocky Mountain region. Another is Cynthia McCormack, director of the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Medical Center.

The VA did not say whether Gigliotti and McCormack were the supervisors facing dismissal. Neither immediately returned a phone message Wednesday.

Gigliotti oversees six hospitals and more than 50 clinics in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming and small sections of Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota.

The names of the other four employees were not released, but the VA said they worked at the Cheyenne medical center or at a clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, which the Cheyenne hospital oversees.

An audit of the Cheyenne hospital released in June found that the average wait time for new patients seeking a primary care doctor was more than 32 days - more than twice the limit the VA had set as a goal. The VA said at the time that the hospital would be reviewed further.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigating agency, said whistleblowers provided information that led to the VA's proposed discipline.

Carolyn Lerner, who leads the office, released a statement calling the VA's action encouraging and praised the whistleblowers.

"These issues would not have come to light if not for the whistleblowers' courageous actions," she said.

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