Douglas Paxton was replaced as the director the Roseburg Veterans Administration Medical Center this week, according to a report in The New York Times. Paxton’s ouster follows revelations that he manipulated the Oregon facility’s healthcare decisions in an effort to improve terrible performance ratings. His measures reportedly included turning away patients in direct opposition to recommendations by physicians.
Dinesh Ranjan, MD, was also removed from his position as chief of surgery. In that role, he assisted in decision making around hospital admissions.
Paxton denied the allegations when they were first published in an investigative piece in the Times, issuing the increasingly family cry “Fake news!” in an interview with Oregon Public Radio. During a federal investigation, though, several staff members at Roseburg verified the accuracy of the Times story.
For the time bring, Paxton was reassigned to a veterans hospital in Huntington, West Virginia. Ranjan was placed in the Northwest regional office, located in Vancouver. There’s still a possibility both could lose employment in the VA because investigations into the practices at Roseburg are ongoing.
“They need to be held accountable for the detrimental culture they cultivated at the Roseburg VA Health Care System,” Eunice Allison-Quick, a nurse at a VA clinic located in Eugene, Oregon, told The Register-Guard. “Owning their part is a good first step. However, they are still in the VA system.”
David Whitmer was named interim director of Roseburg. He moves into the role from the VA healthcare system regional office in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he served as chief operating officer.
The fallout from the Roseburg story also led the VA to install a new practice of aggressively monitoring hospitals with the lowest ratings using the administration’s five-star quality metrics. The monitoring could include top administrators with the VA stepping in with improvement plans devised for individual facilities.