Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fort Bragg Whistleblower Office Special Council Servant of the Year

Well folks we have a great update to the story Army settles Womack whistleblower case with former employee 



OSC Awards Its 2016 Public Servant of the Year 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Nick Schwellenbach, (202) 254-3631; nschwellenbach@osc.gov


WASHINGTON, D.C./September 29, 2016 –
This afternoon, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) honors Teresa Gilbert as its 2016 Public Servant of the Year. Ms. Gilbert was a civilian infection control analyst at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She disclosed violations of infection control policies and regulations that created a significant threat to the health and safety of members of the military and their families treated at Womack. Her disclosures resulted in improved hospital conditions and significant disciplinary action against senior leaders at Womack.

OSC gives its Public Servant of the Year to a federal whistleblower who has demonstrated exceptional courage in bringing to light a serious disclosure of wrongdoing. The award recognizes the whistleblower’s bravery and dedication to public service and furthers public understanding of the important role that whistleblowers play in holding government accountable.

As the hospital’s only board‐certified infection control specialist, Ms. Gilbert observed the use in operating rooms of unsterilized equipment, as well as other deficient infection control practices. She initially made her disclosures to the hospital, which failed to act. She then turned to the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits hospitals. The Joint Commission confirmed that the hospital had 19 systemic deficiencies, including the lack of an infection control plan and a staff inadequately trained to perform their duties.

In response to the Commission’s findings, the Army began an internal investigation into the problems in April 2014. Ms. Gilbert provided information to Army investigators, including the actions taken against her after disclosing problems to the Commission. As a result of the Commission’s findings and the Army investigation, operations at the hospital were shut down for over a week, senior leadership was relieved of command, several managers were disciplined, and Ms. Gilbert’s second line supervisor was issued a reprimand. During the course of the investigation, Ms. Gilbert’s first line supervisor retaliated against her by cutting her work hours in half and engaging in other pretextual personnel actions, which culminated in her proposed removal.

Over much of 2014 and 2015, OSC investigated her case, finding no legitimate basis for Ms. Gilbert’s removal. In September 2015, the two sides reached a settlement on her whistleblower retaliation claim.

“Teresa Gilbert is a true hero whose efforts likely saved the lives of soldiers at the Womack Army Hospital in North Carolina,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. “When Ms. Gilbert became concerned about the unacceptable risk of infection at Womack, she refused to stand idly by and watch. Her tenacity and bravery should serve as an example for us all.”

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from four federal statutes: The Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing, and to serve as a safe channel for allegations of wrongdoing. For more information, please visit our website at www.osc.gov.