VA Official Stays Involved with Manchester VA Task Force After Removal

Nov 30, 2017

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith speaks at a meeting of the task force looking at the future of VA healthcare in New Hampshire.
Credit Peter Biello / NHPR
 

A top regional official at the Department of Veterans Affairs remains involved with a task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA - despite having been removed from his role as co-chair and member of that task force.

Regional VA director Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith was removed because of concerns raised by the state's congressional delegation and VA whistleblowers, who say he bears some responsibility for what they're calling harmful delays in care to veterans.

Veterans Health Administration Executive in Charge Dr. Carolyn Clancy announced his removal in October, saying that “it’s important to have the panel remain independent of his views."

But at meetings this week, Mayo-Smith spoke by invitation about culture change and employee satisfaction. He also introduced consultants looking at options for improving the Manchester VA campus and he asked questions and made comments about their presentation.

VA whistleblower Dr. Ed Kois say Mayo-Smith's involvement is bizarre. "He frequently would put his opinion on different things. And (Thursday) he spoke for a large portion of the early morning session. So I don't see how they can say he was removed from the task force," says Kois.

Mayo-Smith says his participation level now is appropriate. In response to questions about Mayo-Smith's continued involvement, a VA spokesman Curt Cashour says, "the task force is empowered to seek out the views of anyone it sees fit." 

The task force now has until March to make recommendations on the future of VA healthcare for New Hampshire's veterans.