Records show senior VA leadership accessed private medical records of whistleblower employee

VA whistleblower alleges retaliation

DURHAM, NC (WBTV) - A new report obtained by WBTV shows senior staff within the VA’s regional office that covers North Carolina and Virginia, known as VISN 6, accessed the confidential medical records of an employee who has alleged being the victim of harassment, defamation and retaliation.

Joseph Edger was the Deputy Network Director of VISN 6, the second-in-charge, when he filed a complaint in February 2018 with the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

The complaint accused his boss, VISN 6 Director DeAnne Seekins, of retaliating against him for disciplinary action Edger said he took against Seekins before she became his boss, when she was the director of the Durham VA Medical Center.

Edger accused Seekins of harassment, defamation and of creating an inappropriate work environment.

In addition to Edger’s complaint, WBTV has reviewed two other complaints filed with OAWP that made similar allegations against Seekins.

Among the events Edger details in his complaint to OAWP, was an effort by Seekins to have him fired.

At the same time Seekins was executing her scheme to have Edger fired, records show senior VA personnel who report to Seekins accessed Edger’s medical records.

Edger is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and receives medical treatment from the Durham VAMC.

A Sensitive Patient Access Report produced by the VA to Edger this week shows at least four senior employees at VISN 6 and the Durham VAMC, all of whom interact directly to Seekins on various committees or leadership efforts, accessed his record a total of 12 times in a period of less than two weeks between June 15-25, 2018.

By comparison, records show Edger’s treating physicians accessed his medical records a total of 20 times over the course of roughly a year.

There is no evidence in the report obtained by WBTV that Seekins herself accessed Edger’s records.

A spokesman for VISN 6 refused to provide a comment on Seekins’ behalf when reached by WBTV for this story.

Seekins and the VISN 6 spokesman have refused to provide any statement in response to a series of WBTV stories into her alleged wrongdoing.

A VISN 6 spokesman has claimed the agency cannot respond substantively at all unless Edger signs a release authorizing the agency to do so. But WBTV has obtained an email Seekins sent the entire VISN 6 staff in response to a WBTV story regarding the OAWP complaints.

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