strumzilla

​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Ass clowns

Workplace Drama, Part Deux?

The drama from last summer apparently is rearing its head again with the same provider making accusations of misconduct and wrongdoing against multiple employees. I’m not sure if I discussed it here, but this person had been one of three temporary acting chiefs and ultimately lost that position because of increasingly erratic behavior and outrageous claims against multiple people. Things had seemed calm for several months, but supposedly this provider had been looking into other people’s records and made an accusation against another provider that resulted in a suspension. This is all second hand info, so take it with a grain of salt. The source is an honest and reliable person, but I have a feeling there may be some added drama to the story, whether an intentional exaggeration or not.

Following that, it seemed that this accuser appeared emboldened by this action and resumed the campaign against everyone that had rubbed them the wrong way, including yours truly. At this point, I was fed up with the bullshit enough that I sent an email to our new chief as well as his boss and included the memo I had written back in June. He spoke to me in person about it, and although non commital about anything specific, seemed to agree with my points and endorsed that this issue was a problem centered around the source and not the accused. I’ve not heard anything further, and honestly I don’t expect them to take any serious action other than telling this person to do their job and mind their own business. I’m wondering if this person will go even further off the rails to the point they must take action.

My experience with the leadership at work (in my seven years there) is that they avoid conflict and try for a quick and quiet resolution. Which usually doesn’t involve dismissals or transfers. If nothing else comes out of it, they got a detailed description of how I work now, so there can’t be any protestations of ignorance if there are any issues in the future. There shouldn’t be, as I’m following the same procedures (as directed and endorsed by my supervisors and our colleagues at the regional office) that I’ve always followed. I felt it was important to make sure our relatively new leadership chain (the clinic chief has only been here a month or so, and his boss around a year) was aware of my process.

I’m hoping the leadership will finally understand that this is a purely personal episode and this person is pursuing vendettas against multiple people to serve their own ego and not for the good of the organization or our customers. I stated that this episode was hurting morale and hindering our ability to care for our patients, and I’m hoping if nothing else that will mean something to them. We’ll see.

Drama on television or record is great, elsewhere not so much...

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks at work and somewhat at school. At work we're hopefully near the end of a cycle that saw one of our doctors going off the rails. She was named an acting chief while they were looking to a hire a new permanent chief after the illness related departure of our former permanent chief.  To distill it down to a few sentences, let's just say she had a bit of a power trip and was butting heads and attacking several people in the clinic. 

We had been friends and supportive co-workers for many years but had a falling out a few months ago when we disagreed about implementation of the Gulf War illness policy. She's relatively new to government service and thought it was within her authority to implement the policy as she saw fit. It isn't, and she can't. But, in most cases we're willing to let individual providers rationalize their own opinions on cases as long as they understand they'll have to defend it if it's appealed or a complaint is filed. But in this case, and as part of her newly acquired (if temporary) authority, she decided the policy needed to change for the whole clinic and had directed our schedulers to change they way they scheduled these exams. 

This is where our big disagreement arose. She has this idea that if a claimed condition doesn't fit within a medical diagnostic criteria, then it's not valid. Something I've tried to explain to her for years is that our specific corner of government service is not strictly concerned with medical criteria. We work in disability claims and it's equal parts legal and even political. The entire philosophy of our claims is based on uncertainty. Our opinions typically include the statement "at least as likely as not", which basically says that if our determination of a claim is that it's fifty/fifty parts for and against the claim, then we grant the claim. 

Compared to what's happened between her and other people in the clinic, this has been pretty tame. Until she decided to go around me and accuse myself and our program analyst of inflating exams unnecessarily.  I have been a fee basis provider for over a year. This means that I am compensated by the exam. In the case of Gulf War exams, they tend to generate not only exams for conditions but also opinions for each condition. So, if a veteran claims four conditions, it results in eight total worksheets and I'm paid for each. The typical claim can generate from ten to twenty exams. Occasionally, that number can go significantly higher. 

I had an exam a month or so ago that was for around twenty claimed conditions but it also generated an equal number of direct opinions as well as fourteen or so Gulf War opinions. It ended up totaling fifty three worksheets. This is the highest number I've ever completed, and it's not typical by any stretch. A typical day for me is around twenty exams. I'm not sure if this is the exam which she questioned, but if not it was a similar one. I've had a few in the forties and many in the thirties. It should be noted that the FTE often don't reach these numbers in the course of a week, much less a day. 

My previous post history tells the story of the relative level of productivity among regular federal employees. Let's just say that they typically underachieve, at least compared to my levels. To make a long story short, she basically accused me and the program analyst of stealing money. Because she questioned the validity of the claims (going back to our fundamental disagreement of Gulf War), then she surmised that meant that any Gulf War related claims/opinions were invalid and shouldn't be billed. Like I said before, she doesn't have this authority. No one at our level has this authority. This is national policy and you're not allowed to take away from a regulation to suit your own needs. For what it's worth, my performance of these exams and opinions was directed before I was ever fee basis and had specific approval by the former chief (on more than one occasion), not to mention that the whole policy was directed by VBA personnel outside our clinic. It's a well established and approved policy that has been in place for a long time before she got here. 

All of this scenario is rather tame to what else she has been doing. To keep it short, let's just say she's accused others of outright fraud, abuse, and even having sex in the clinic. It's all bullshit and an attempt by her to discredit and destroy anyone who's crossed her path. I avoid psychoanalyzing in general, and also because I'm not qualified, but I think her specific pathology has something to do with growing up in an authoritarian regime which tends to encourage similar behaviors in those victimized or oppressed once they possess any power. She's demonstrated a feeling of superiority over others, including her own MD/DO peers. She has never understood that her authority as a doctor is strictly clinical. In the federal system, and in our country for that matter, we don't recognize social castes. Although we do have great inequalities in our country, we don't recognize our defer to people because they are part of a ruling class or aristocracy. She seems to think differently. Although some actions are still pending, it seems apparent they are going to remove her from the temporary position and her application for the permanent position would likely be dead in the water. Honestly, I hope she has enough personal shame to resign from the department if not the government as well. 

Although I know myself and our program analyst didn't do anything untoward or dishonest, it's still stressful to have those sorts of accusations hanging over you, because if they were true they would likely result in termination as well as a permanent black mark on our records. Mostly the stress derived from uncertainty to how far the accusation would go, and that the people passing judgement would be strangers who might be given incomplete and biased information. It appears that nothing will come of this for now, but it's still very troubling to face a sudden unexpected threat to your livelihood. As I have discussed with our program analyst, this was the ultimate betrayal and bridge burning offense from which a person will never come back. 

Ahhh, professionalism...

I would have posted this to facebook, but this is probably a better venue (because no one will read it) for a short vent. When I arrived at work today, I discovered my computer had basically called it quits. It had done this a few times in the past, but it was usually revivable with a few hard reboots. This time, after 6 or 7 attempts it was still down for the count. I notified our administrator and the clinic chief and switched to an office across the hallway until they could fix the problem. We can't do our job in C&P without the computer (well, technically you could if you had the forethought to print out exam worksheets before the exam, but why would you do that, it would be wasting paper since they have to be submitted electronically anyway).

Long story short, the office I was borrowing had been reserved for another PA but he hadn't ever used it yet (he already has an office). I didn't think it would be a problem since I would most likely only need it for one or two days. I had notified the chief and administrator when I told them my computer was down that I was going to be using that office. Apparently he had received his keys last week, and today was going to be his big move-in day. He walked into the office after 8am and I was preparing to see my first patient and I quickly told him that I had to borrow his office until my computer was fixed.

Without going into all the gory details, he essentially threw a temper tantrum and said I had to get out of his office and he was going to call security. I explained to him that this was cleared through the chief of the clinic, and we could talk to him about it. This guy refused to talk to the chief and said he would get security if he had to.

He was blowing smoke, because this wasn't "his" office anymore than it belongs to anyone. It's the VA and everything is government property. He then later barged in while I was seeing a patient and acted like an ass in front of the patient as well.

I spoke to the chief of the clinic about his behavior and the chief said he would counsel him later. I made a point of documenting the encounter in detail and sending it to the chief. I haven't seen Mr professional since then, I'm hoping he's coming to realize what an unprofessional ass he was and is perhaps rethinking his conduct.

It was really random. I don't know this guy at all, we haven't previously interacted much at all. I almost wonder if he has borderline personality disorder or some other mental illness. That does stand out as the single most immature episode of behavior I have ever seen in a colleague since I became a PA nearly 14 years ago. I expect that sort of behavior from privates in basic training, but this was just plain weird. What an ass clown...