171208-nrr-thevabuilding-01

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The Douglas County Veterans Forum issued a vote of no confidence Thursday against Dinesh Ranjan, the chief of surgery at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Ranjan has been at the center of more than one scandal at the VA, including allegations he performed substandard colonoscopies and retaliated against whistle-blowers who reported on him. On Thursday, the veterans forum’s executive board voted 8-0 to call for Ranjan’s resignation, removal or reassignment.

“We believe permitting the Chief of Surgery to continue in his position will continue to degrade VA employees’ morale and thus affect their merciful and diligent care giving,” the board said in a written statement.

The VA issued a written statement this morning saying, “We take these concerns — and those of all veterans — seriously. That’s why we are in the process of reaching out to the Douglas County Veterans Forum so we can speak with them in detail on this issue.”

Reached by phone this morning, Ranjan declined to comment, saying he could not talk because he was overseas.

The Douglas County Veterans Forum represents 21 veterans groups and about 5,000 local veterans. It’s not the first time it’s issued a vote of no confidence for the VA. In August 2014, it called for the resignation of three top officials at the VA, including then-director Carol Bogedain. Bogedain stepped down about a month after the vote.

As for the reasons for its vote of no confidence on Ranjan, the board cited an overwhelming number of complaints received from VA employees, issues and questions surrounding colonoscopies, allegations of retaliation against VA employees, a large number of VA employee resignations, and continuing complaints alleging a hostile work environment.

President Larry Hill told The News-Review Thursday’s decision on Ranjan was a “culmination of everything that’s happened so far.” He said Ranjan’s name keeps coming up as issues are brought out at the VA.

“It’s a disservice to have this man in a position of leadership or authority at our VA,” he said.

Whistle-blower Philo Calhoun was removed from surgical duties in 2014 after reporting on colonoscopies Ranjan performed. Calhoun was later vindicated by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and transferred to the Portland VA. He has since retired.

Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner testified before the U.S. Senate in 2015 that 80 colonoscopies performed by Ranjan were reviewed by the chief of gastroenterology and 90 percent were found to have been performed incorrectly.

Former operating room scheduling clerk Susan Neeley May alleged he cornered her in 2015 and berated her for half an hour over surgery schedules, prompting other staff members to contact VA police. She ultimately left her job, and said she has since suffered from anxiety.

May said this morning she was smiling for the first time in a long time when she heard the news.

“I’m crying, but they’re happy tears,” she said.

May said she’s excited about the no confidence vote because she believes it will lead to change at the VA. It’s amazing news for the patients and the employees, many of whom have had their lives changed forever because of Ranjan’s actions, she said.

“It’s going to give them a chance to heal,” she said.

Eugene surgeon Scott Russi alleged Ranjan fired him in August of this year after Russi challenged him on pay and performance issues. Subsequently, Ranjan was named in testimony Rep. Peter DeFazio gave before Congress in October on the recently passed Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

Hill said the veterans forum remains confident in the work that VA Director Doug Paxton is doing to bring about positive change at the VA. The statement of no confidence stated Paxton’s “leadership of the Roseburg VA Healthcare System is highly respected by the veteran community. Director Paxton has fostered open and honest communications with the veteran community which is admired and appreciated.”

The statement was mailed to VA Secretary David J. Shulkin and the U.S. House and Senate committees on Veteran Affairs.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

React to this story:

13
2
2
2
7

Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(9) comments

MJM

Just spoke to OMI. What a joke. The VA Fix is in. Constant interruptions and minimalization. All you Abusers, Harassers, Sexual Harassers, and Retaliators at the VA can relax now. Everything will be just fine for you.

Despacito

Let me guess the next step. Paxton will pretend like he had no idea all this was going on? One would have to be blind, deaf and buried in a lead lined coffin to not know what is going on. Besides, all disciplinary actions and investigations regarding employees have to be approved by the director. His signature is on these documents. How are you going to deny that Mr. Paxton? You don't know what your own hand is doing?

gary may

Life's have been shattered because of the incompetent leadership at VARHS, Ranjan proven over and over of BULLING, INTIMATION AND RETALIATION is only a few of his arsenals aginst staff. anyone that stands up to him regarding Vetetans care or he fears will blow the lid off his lies,cover ups and credibility he fires or they are intemadated till it effects thier mental health and they reassign early or quit. After my 23 yrs of service there and my wife's 17 yrs we retired early because of the abuse he continued to do to her even after be charged and found guilty of it. Paxton allowed this type of action to continue and in some cases I know of was verbally abusive his self.

MJM

Are you kidding me? Doug Paxton is just as bad, if not worse, than Ranjan. He was leading the charge, and allowing Ranjan to berate, harass, malign, and abuse employees. Please! He is culpable in all of this. Sociopaths are quite adept at convincing people they have no responsibility and everyone else is to blame. They need to talk to Scott Russi. He delegated the dirty work to non-veteran employees to like Ranjan, and people in HR. They all have blood on their hands.

Despacito

So true. Agree, Paxton is responsible for the actions of his management staff. Captain should go down with the ship.

RoloToomasi

h

OSCMD

One down, several more to go. They need to get Paxton out (who has dozens of EEOs filed against him for whistlowing and retaliation). Ranjan’s Wife is still COS there. Not to mention the other top management officials who are corrupt. A vote of no confidence needs to be made about Paxton.

Our Veterans deserve management who care about them and who support the staff that provide the care. They are lying to the public when they say that employee morale has improved. Just look at all the media surrounding the Roseburg VA.

Time for change...

Caila

What took so long? Roseburg VA has done NOTHING but gone down hill for the past 20 years. Most people are there to collect their paychecks rather than SERVE our Veterans with the utmost and best possible healthcare that they deserve! THAT in itself should spur those who work there to whistle blow, stomp their feet, group together, contact their representative: WORK four our Veterans! The current standard is less than I would ask for my dog.

Caila

four=for

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.