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Sun, Oct. 20

Prescott VA supports beleaguered pharmacy chief

The VA Medical Center in Prescott is seen in this file image. (File photo/Courier)

The VA Medical Center in Prescott is seen in this file image. (File photo/Courier)

Prescott VA leaders on Wednesday defended the head of the medical center’s pharmacy department as someone they are confident is following the administration’s veteran-centric mission, dismissing suggestions that he is mistreating employees despite published allegations to the contrary.

In an official statement, the top administrative staff at both the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Northern Arizona Veteran Affairs Health Care System said the head of its pharmacy operations, Dr. Yusuf Dawoodbhai, has the “full confidence and support of the Prescott Medical Center leadership team. He was hired to the Prescott VA in June 2018 from a similar post at the Greater Los Angeles VA Health Care System.

“Yusuf Dawoodbhai has instituted key reforms at VA pharmacies in Los Angeles and Prescott when they needed it most, resulting in better service to veterans and better value to taxpayers,” the statement reads. “In instances where aligning these pharmacies with VA standards generated complaints from employees the department took appropriate action. While two internal reviews identified the need for minor improvements in some areas, all of the most serious allegations made against Dr. Dawoodbhai were not substantiated.”

The Arizona Republic on Sept. 3 published the report of an investigation that determined the Los Angeles VA found as part of their review of employee allegations that Dawoodbhai intimidated and disrespected employees who lodged Equal Opportunity complaints against him. The investigators there also stated that he failed to address claims involving potentially serious patient harm, the Republic wrote.

The Department of Veteran Affairs Administration spokesman Jessica Jacobsen was quoted as stating the Los Angeles’ report was reviewed and though some “routine improvements” were noted “all of the most serious allegations were not substantiated.”

The Republic also obtained a recording of a Prescott VA leadership team staff meeting where allegations against Dawoodbhai were discussed, and dismissed.

At that meeting, according to the newspaper story, the leaders determined employee allegations of harassment and a hostile work environment were not substantiated, and that his behavior was “misconstrued.”

Leaders did offer to provide Dawoodbhai with “executive coaching” and offered to give employees a chance to air their grievances with him. But defenders of the employees say that it is unlikely given Dawoodbhai’s demeanor and complaints that stem from his reprisal of those who criticize him that anyone would be comfortable making such comments in that type of setting.

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Dr. Yusuf Dawoodbhai

Efforts to obtain comment from Dawoodbhai and a former pharmacy employee who discussed allegations with The Republic were not successful on Wednesday.

At VA, patient safety and service to Veterans comes first in all that we do, and we make no apology for that,” the statement reads. “Northern Arizona VA Health Care System’s pharmacy department has made strong progress since Dr. Dawoodbhai’s arrival … adding much needed positions, growing the department with specialized teams and working to improve employee engagement.

The pharmacy and outpatient laboratory at the Prescott VA over the last two years has undergone an over $10 million renovation into a two-story 17,870 square foot building just beyond the main entrance to the medical center. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony has not yet been scheduled, but administrators have said the project is near completion.

Since Dawoodbhai’s arrival at the Prescott VA, the statement said he has created four additional primary are pharmacist positions, added two staff to the pharmacy call center, a move that has cut the average patient wait time from 148 seconds to 36 seconds. He has started to install new equipment that will increase the speed and accuracy of processing prescriptions.

In Dawoodbhai’s tenure, the VA leadership states that veteran satisfaction scores have improved.

“Prescott VA leadership continues to meet with pharmacy staff to work on improvements in their area,” the statement concluded.

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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