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August 27, 2014
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Roseburg VA director Carol Bogedain announces retirement

Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center Director Carol Bogedain announced Wednesday she will retire in January.

In a written statement, Bogedain said that she planned to work three years at the Roseburg VA, and that time will be up Jan. 31.

“I will leave the VA with many incredible and rewarding memories knowing that I have always strived to do the very best that I could for our veterans,” she wrote.

The statement makes no mention of the scrutiny Roseburg and other VAs around the country are under for long waits for veteran care and allegations that employees were asked to falsify data about those waits. The scandal led to the resignation of the VA secretary and federal legislation that allows new VA Secretary Robert McDonald to fire top managers.

Administrators have said long wait times reflect difficulty recruiting care providers to rural Roseburg. Some VA employees have said the real problem is that many providers leave due to a working environment they describe as toxic.

Some veterans and employees also criticized administrators for receiving bonuses while veterans waited for care. Bogedain earned a salary of $141,790 in 2013, according to FedsDataCenter.com. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed she received $15,597 in bonuses over a two-year period. It was unclear whether bonuses were included in the salary figure.

Former Douglas County Veterans Forum President Jim Little said he hopes veterans will be given input in the choice of Bogedain’s replacement.

Little said he is not sorry to see Bogedain go.

“Sadly, I think Director Bogedain was a poor leader. She led by either ignoring problems or denying them,” he said. “I’m hoping we have a fresh start, that we get a director in there that will definitely take care of all the employees who are under him or her.”

The Roseburg VA director of women’s health care, Marcia Hall, said it will take more than one retirement to fix what’s wrong with the VA.

“For true culture change, it’s going to require a clean sweep of leadership,” she said.

Hall has described the VA as having a culture in which employees are bullied and information is suppressed about problems affecting patient care.

Bogedain, 62, wrote in the statement released Wednesday that January would mark her 39th year with the VA and the end of her third year in Roseburg.

“I have worked at seven different facilities and have been fortunate to work with many devoted, caring and talented individuals. I chose a career in the VA because, in my estimation it has the noblest of all missions within the government and that is to provide the highest level of quality care to those who have given so much for our country,” Bogedain wrote.

The statement also said her three years at Roseburg were “at times challenging but ultimately fulfilling and rewarding.”

Bogedain did not respond to questions about her retirement and did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Hall said she believes Bogedain has timed her retirement to take advantage of the higher level of retirement pay she will receive for completing three years here. She said the move ensures Bogedain will be rewarded for her Roseburg service rather than punished for her performance.

Both Hall and Little said they did not believe Bogedain was responsible for falsification of data on wait times. A federal report released in July said that 30 percent of employees questioned said they had received instruction from the facility to lie about wait times.

Bogedain came to the Roseburg VA from the Salem, Virginia, VA in 2011. She arrived during a time when the Douglas County Veterans Forum and administrators were already in conflict over whether the facility’s intensive care unit should reopen. The ICU was closed in 2009 and the controversy has not abated.

Veterans argue that an ICU will improve patient safety. Bogedain disagreed. She argued that the hospital saw too few critically ill patients to keep ICU staffers’ skills sharp.

Veterans said an ICU might have prevented the June 2013 death of retired Army Sgt. Ray Velez, 61, of Junction City. Velez fell ill following a hernia operation at the VA and died of cardiac arrest in an ambulance en route to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield. His death prompted visits by an American Legion task force in January and February.

The rift between Bogedain and forum members widened when she walked out of a forum meeting in February and said she would no longer attend its monthly gatherings.

Little said Bogedain never returned to those meetings, though she did indicate at one point she might return if invited.

Little said he hopes the next director reopens the lines of communication.

“I’d like to see a more people-friendly person,” he said.

He said veterans have no intention of letting up on their demands for the ICU to reopen.

“We’re going to pursue it. We’re not going to give it up,” he said. “(Bogedain) may think it’s a dead issue, but we think it is not.”

• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

•••

The earlier version of this story, posted on Aug. 27, appears below:

Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center Director Carol Bogedain will retire in January, according to an email announcement sent to VA employees this afternoon and forwarded to The News-Review by a VA employee.

In the announcement, Bogedain wrote that she planned to work three years at the Roseburg VA and that time will be up Jan. 31.

“I will leave the VA with many incredible and rewarding memories knowing that I have always strived to do the very best that I could for our veterans,” she wrote.

The statement makes no mention of the scrutiny Roseburg and other VAs around the country are under for long waits for veteran care and allegations that employees were asked to falsify data about those waits.

Bogedain could not be immediately reached for comment.


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The News-Review Updated Aug 28, 2014 01:12PM Published Aug 28, 2014 12:07PM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.