A Dying VA Physician’s warning of patient harm

With five days to live, Dr. Sarah Kemble, chief of medicine for VA’s central and western Massachusetts region, completed a 23 page affidavit revealing substandard care, delays in patient care, mismanagement and more at the Northampton VA Medical Center in Western Massachusetts.  She further explained, “substandard care means patient harm.”

Dr. Kemble’s affidavit is one of thirty complaints reported to VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection in the past eight months, according to Keven Rothstein and WCVB5 news.

It should come as no surprise that Dr. Kemble’s dying words contradict VA’s official message.  Two years ago, the Director of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Health Care System, John P. Collins, touted lower or improving wait times, the exact opposite alleged by Kemble.

In 2015, Collins noted the hiring of Kemble as “the new director of primary care,” yet, Kemble’s affidavit spoke of retaliation against her as she attempted to address VA’s shortcomings.  Relatedly, in November 2016, VA continued to tell the public things were improving.  Citing VA data, Collins indicated VA has “improved access,” but that too doesn’t seem to square with Kemble’s concerns of delays in care.

Apparently VA is now investigating itself, which signals that the problem will be further concealed, there will be no accountability, and this story will fade from local headlines.


Published by: Dr. Eric Hannel

Dr. Hannel retired from the United States Marine Corps and later served as a congressional military liaison and the Staff Director/lead investigator for the Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations in the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. While in Congress, Dr. Hannel contributed to the amicus curiae brief presented to the Supreme Court of the United States regarding Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, spoke at length with the UK Defense Minister on veterans’ issues, and as part of the House Democracy Partnership he addressed Members of Parliament from Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Peru, and Timor-Leste and most recently the Secretary General of the Sri Lankan Parliament. Dr. Hannel has more than two decades of experience addressing systems, information, personnel, and personal security issues.


2 thoughts on “A Dying VA Physician’s warning of patient harm”

  1. My name is Jim S and I used to work at that VA in Leeds before I began working as a Rural Letter Carrier. I have and continue to have chronic run ins with the VA staff at that facility. I have written to Dizzy Lizzy Warren many times with absolutely zero results. Apparently she is not my Senator. I have been waiting for over three weeks to get either my meds renewed or see a doctor. I have tried calling the patient experience coordinator but he doesn’t answer and never returns phone calls. The only way I get results is to yell and scream which they seem to love because that shows them they are getting even with you.. If the VA was my only source of medical coverage I would be in deep trouble. Supposedly there is an investigation going on up there but you couldn’t prove it by me they are behaving much like one happy family that you do not belong to. Team medicine is more like sharing information about the patient than working on the medical issues. They are self absorbed , self centered individuals with a like minded objective………………….NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL US WHAT TO DO. For veterans who are used to taking orders as part of military training they seem to be incapable of following orders but they are very good at lying.


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