IG probes alleged 'misconduct' at Cincinnati VA, focus purportedly on prescriptions

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A recent federal probe into alleged “misconduct” at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Cincinnati is focusing on allegations of drugs being improperly prescribed to patients, Fox News learned Saturday.

The agency’s inspector general is purportedly looking into whether Dr. Barbara Temeck, the facility’s acting chief of staff and a thoracic surgeon, carries proper authority to prescribe medicine.

Among the allegations is that Temeck prescribed medication to the wife of Jack Hetrick, the director of the VA region that includes Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

A VA email obtained by Fox News states Hetrick has recused himself from “any and all decisions” regarding the facility because his wife has a “professional and personal relationship with the physician involved."

A source told Fox News on Friday that the VA inspector general is “investigating an allegation of misconduct that adversely affects the care of veterans at the Cincinnati facility.”

The inspector general’s office and Veteran Affairs did not respond to messages Saturday asking to verify the investigation.

The investigation and wrongdoings, if verified, could be another setback for the troubled agency.

In 2014, at least 35 military veterans died while awaiting care at a VA facility in Phoenix.

The finding resulted in the discovery of additional cases of delays in patient care in other facilities in other states. And agency Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid the fallout.

Reports about the Cincinnati investigation began circulating on Capitol Hill after what sources described as “cryptic” phone calls at about 5 p.m. to congressional offices, advising them of a formal inquiry from the inspector general’s office.

Multiple offices in the Ohio and Indiana delegations received the calls, which purportedly were scripted. And the person from the VA making the calls would not deviate nor answer questions about the inquiry, sources said.

Lawmakers and their aides are livid about how and when the information was communicated.

A spokesman for GOP Rep. Brad Wenstrup -- a military veteran who represents part of Cincinnati and is a podiatrist and member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee -- said the congressman is “deeply troubled by this cryptic news and wants to know more, to include who is being investigated and why.”

The spokesman also said the timing of the announcement -- late on a Friday before a federal holiday -- suggests the agency is attempting to hide the story from the public.

Wenstrup is leading a Veterans’ Affairs committee field hearing in Cincinnati next week that will focus on veteran hiring practices and questions about the investigation are expected to arise.

The Cincinnati investigation could prove embarrassing to new Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald.

He was brought in to clean up the agency after the scandal two years ago. Moreover, McDonald worked for years in Cincinnati as the president and chief executive office at of Procter and Gamble, which is based in that Ohio city.