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VA Settles 3 Whistleblower Retaliation Cases In Phoenix

Phoenix VA hospital
(Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)
Phoenix VA hospital.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has reached settlements with three employees who filed whistleblower retaliation complaints in Phoenix. Each of the employees will continue to work within the VA system.

In addition to retaining their employment, Paula Pedene, Dr. Katherine Mitchell, and Damien Reese have also been awarded a financial settlement.

Pedene and Mitchell have accepted new positions at the Phoenix VA medical center. Mitchell, who is the hospital’s former co-director of emergency care says she’s excited about her new role overseeing the quality of patient care.

"I’ll be in a position where I can certainly help to oversee and intervene in many of the problems that I noticed earlier when I was in a different position," she said. 

Mitchell added that officials have also assured her the investigation into those who perpetrated the retaliation will continue.

"I’m extremely hopeful," she said. "Much of the stress that was there is gone."

In a statement, VA Secretary Robert McDonald says the organization takes whistleblower complaints seriously adding that retaliation will not be tolerated.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.