The latest in a string of scandals plaguing the Memphis Veterans Affairs hospital is stomach turning. Human remains were found in a hospital drain.
Adding to the alarm, the hospital exposed a plumber to possible biological pathogens when he was called in to unclog a drain without proper gear for handling biological waste or knowledge of the materials he was handling.
This story is one of many exposed by VA hospital whistleblower, Sean Higgins. Higgins was fired from the Memphis VA hospital in 2008 after reporting a privacy act violation to the Office of Inspector General. He was re-hired in 2009 but was fired again in 2014, after reporting the hospital’s use of 30 dialysis machines that were improperly cleaned.
Higgins has now become a confidant for hospital workers who are afraid to speak out. He received knowledge of this latest scandal via text from a current employee. The texts were accompanied by the disturbing photos.
The Memphis VA Hospital was cited 5 times by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for its handling of the bio-hazardous materials. Those citations can be seen below.
Higgins has now faced backlash from the Veterans Affairs hospital. He has currently been re-hired, but is in a no-pay status and has not been given assignment. He says the government failed to protect him from retaliation.
His story is one that is all to familiar too government whistle blowers, which prompted President Obama in 2009, to pass a Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Bill. But the Obama administration has since come under fire for its lack of enforcement, misleading language and what appears to be outright hostility toward whistleblowers.
Higgins says he will continue to speak out for the men and women who receive care at the VA hospital. “I am a veteran. I have friends who died there.” He says, “I took my oath seriously.”