Former Cincinnati VA official indicted

Former Cincinnati VA Medical Center chief of staff Barbara Temeck was indicted this month on charges that she improperly dispensed controlled substances.

The charges filed in federal district court accuse Temeck of prescribing Valium and Hydrocodone in 2012 and 2013 in violation of federal code.

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This follows a VA internal investigation last year that substantiated misconduct by Temeck in connection with prescriptions she provided to family members of Jack Hetrick, who oversaw U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operations across Ohio.

Temeck’s attorneys Benjamin Dusing and Ken Hawley in Cincinnati issued a statement Monday saying the indictment is retaliation for Temeck questioning hospital practices.

“Dr. Temeck is a whistle blower who stood up for veterans and spoke truth to power,” they said. “In doing so, she upset very powerful interests, who aligned against her and who have made it their mission to remove her from her position at the VA and to discredit her.”

Temeck’s attorneys called for the U.S. Department of Justice and governmental oversight committees to investigate the prosecution.

Hetrick retired as head of Veterans Integrated Service Network 10 in February 2016 after allegations surfaced of not only wrongful prescription of medication, but also concerns about whether mismanagement led to quality of care issues for veterans.

Dayton VA Director Glenn Costie took over the Cincinnati VA from May to October 2016 during the controversy.

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A VA Office of Inspector General report released this month found that clean and dirty hospital materials were improperly stored together during Hetrick’s tenure — raising infection concerns — but it did not substantiate other patient care concerns.

The review was requested by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, after an investigative report by WCPO in Cincinnati.

Brown, who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, insisted the Inspector General follow up with an in-person inspection to make sure concerns about cleanliness and infection rates were addressed.

“This cannot be just another report that gets filed away on a shelf. We need to make sure the VA takes action to address this problem,” Brown said in a statement.

“We have taken important steps to ensure veterans can get the best possible care. But our job is never done, and I am continuing to communicate with the VA, local workers and veterans to hold the Cincinnati VA accountable for meeting the standards our veterans deserve.”

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