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Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center Director Doug Paxton speaks with staff members in 2014.

The mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, told The News-Review on Monday evening that former Roseburg Veterans Affairs Director Doug Paxton won’t be reassigned to a West Virginia VA after all.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he became concerned about Paxton after hearing about the troubles he’d had in Roseburg on a late-night radio show. So he contacted his friend and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, who he said succeeded in having the appointment canceled.

“He’s gone. He’s not coming here,” Jones said.

Paxton’s reassignment to the Huntington VA, which covers veterans in the Charleston area, followed allegations of whistle-blower retaliation and of high-risk patients being turned away for care in order to improve the hospital’s star rating. Paxton was to be the assistant director at the Huntington VA.

Jones contacted a couple of people in Roseburg to learn more about Paxton. He spoke with union representative Karl Tanner, and with Susan Neeley May, a former VA clerk who had problems with another recently transferred manager, former Chief of Surgery Dinesh Ranjan.

Jones, a veteran himself, said West Virginia has enough problems already, from the loss of coal jobs to an opioid crisis. He didn’t want the Roseburg VA’s problems to become their problems, too.

“I feel very good about what we accomplished, and he’s not coming here. I don’t know the guy, I don’t know anything about it, but why would this be happening if he was going to be a plus? We just don’t need it here,” Jones said.

Manchin’s website indicates he asked for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its decision to transfer Paxton to West Virginia.

“Our Veterans deserve the best healthcare available and I was deeply disappointed to hear of what happened under Douglas Paxton’s watch at the Roseburg VA facility in Oregon,” Manchin said in a written statement. “These types of reassignment policies are exactly the thing that prevents the VA from providing our Veterans with consistent high-quality healthcare and services of which they are so deserving.”

May said when she spoke to Jones, he seemed “very, very genuine.”

“They do not want our castoffs,” she said.

May thinks Paxton should be fired from the VA, not transferred to another facility.

Tanner could not be reached for comment.

VA doctor Steven Blum said it’s unfortunate that Manchin had to step in to stop a transfer he said “never should have been approved in the first place.”

“Shuffling problematic employees to other unsuspecting facilities is not a solution for improving veterans’ care. It has become obvious that it takes extreme outside scrutiny in order to force the VA to hold its managers accountable,” Blum said.

Former VA employee and veterans advocate Dona Brewer also objected to what she said is the VA’s continued attempt to transfer bad managers instead of firing them outright.

“There is a national network monitoring this kind of behavior, and thank God it reached VA Huntington,” she said.

Now, she said, the VA should reconsider its decision to transfer Ranjan to the regional network that oversees the northwestern states.

“Both have harmed veterans and VA staff and misled the local community,” she said.

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

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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

(7) comments

MJM

I think they should take away all his rights of access to VA systems, and put him in a room by himself in a corner of a clinic somewhere like he did to my friend Laura Follett. Deny him access to areas reserved for VA staff like he did to my friend Laura while she worked at the HCC. She went from being the PCMM Coordinator to a Pariah. She went to being an integral part of the Eugene clinic to having all her access shut off. Prayers answered. Thanks again, Carisa, for telling the story.

Despacito

Agree. It appears Mr. Paxton is experiencing a little karma but what he really needs is a taste of his own medicine. He should be suspended, his income decreased, investigated relentlessly, denied promotions, placed in a small dark closet with a computer that doesn't work in the equivalent of Siberia and his professional licenses and certifications removed. After the investigations, no matter what the findings, he should be punished for something he can't change/improve...like let's say his personality type or facial shape which goes into his permanent personnel file and affects his ability to obtain a higher grade thereby decreasing his career opportunities for advancement and his future retirement. These are all of the things that in a few short years he has managed to accomplish while being the top administrator at the VA Roseburg. He's been one busy guy. Kudos to those legislators and leaders in West Virginia who gallantly fought to keep this scourge of a being from entering their community. Let's hope our legislators will ultimately do the same and pursue terminations.

ralpho

Mr. Paxton, as a federal employee, cannot be fired for mere incompetence. The VA is a quasi-military organization with roots reaching back to George Washington and through him back to the Roman Legions. Mr. Paxton will most likely be reassigned until he is in a place that accepts him. If the VA should decide to try to get rid of Mr. Paxton, they'll most likely assign him to some hole like Adak, Alaska with the hope he will opt for early retirement.

Mogie

Apparently West Virginia didn't want Roseburg's problem either. Why not just get rid of the problem instead of sending it to somebody else to deal with?

just me

maybe, just maybe, there is something wrong with v.a. human resources

gary may

I totally agree with Dr Blum, Donald Brewer, Susan May and many other Veterans, staff and W Virginia. Paxton and Ranjan needs to be fired and not allowed ANY position within the VA or private healthcare systems. People's health is at risk if either is allowed to continue after 100's of complaints and a NO CONFIDENCE VOTE by the Douglas County Veteran's forum

Despacito

Yes. Mr. Ranjan, at this very moment still has privileges at the VISN 20 level (Boise, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Roseburg, Spokane, Walla Walla) and can still see patients and is in charge of surgical service entities at ALL of these facilities now. One has to ask, how does this happen and how does it continue??? Mr. Murphy, the VISN director has continued to protect both Ranjan and Paxton. Maybe the VISN needs to be examined more carefully too.

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