Second whistleblower in VA scandal comes forward, alleges officials tried to destroy evidence

PHOENIX - A second person has now come forward with new claims of a cover-up at the Phoenix VA Hospital.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell said an employee called her last Sunday saying officials at the VA were planning on destroying evidence.

“He was aware that there was information that the administration was planning on altering to change some of the evidence and the OIG (Office of Inspector General) needed to investigate the allegations,” Mitchell said.

They decided to save that evidence-- hiding it in a locked cabinet in a different department in the VA hospital.  

On Monday, they made sure an investigator with the Inspector General's office got the documents when they visited the hospital.

“I thought, you know, I've never heard of a VA physician whistleblower, but someone has to start somewhere,” Mitchell said.

Dr. Mitchell is currently a medical director at the post deployment clinic.

She's worked at the Phoenix VA hospital for 16 years.

This comes as the federal government investigates claims of neglect and mismanagement at the Phoenix Health Care System that may have led to more than 40 veteran deaths.

Thursday, three employees including VA hospital director Sharon Helman were placed on leave by the VA secretary.

Dr. Mitchell said she risked her career to come forward.

She said retaliation against employees who speak out has kept them silent for too long.

“They retaliate against you so much so, that even when you bring up a patient care issue, you have to do it in politically correct terms so you don't upset the wrong administrator,” she said.

Dr. Mitchell has actually been fighting the VA for months.

She said she logged problems with patient care across every department and submitted a report to the OIG last year, with the help of Senator John McCain’s office.

She said she was demoted because of it.

Now, again, her job is one the line because she spoke out.

This time it’s more serious because she said she violated the VA gag order.

Dr. Mitchell has written a letter to the VA explaining it was for ethical reasons.

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