September 25, 2019 Blog, Press Release

New Report: Bevin Hired VA Doctor Fired for “Egregious” Misconduct During Height of Hepatitis A Outbreak

As Kentucky is facing the deadliest hepatitis A outbreak in the country, “Matt Bevin’s administration hired a physician to lead the state’s infectious disease office just months after the Department of Veterans Affairs dismissed that doctor for ‘egregious’ medical misconduct,” according to a new bombshell investigative report from WEKU.

The report raises new questions about Bevin’s abject failure to address Kentucky’s hepatitis A outbreak. In March, the governor said only “dozens of people” had been affected, the same day the Courier-Journal reported more than 4,000 people had been affected by the disease. Hepatitis A has spread throughout almost every county in Kentucky, and the Commonwealth also leads the nation in both acute and chronic cases of hepatitis C.

The investigation details:

“Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services hired Dr. John ‘Mel’ Bennett in the same month that the VA’s Inspector General published a report highly critical of Bennett’s actions…

The VA suspended Bennett’s privileges – meaning he was barred from treating patients – on Dec. 26, 2017, when the investigation began. The VA fired him on July 6, 2018, and the VA’s Metcalf sent a letter to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure two weeks later explaining the VA decision… Despite this available information, Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services hired Bennett in September, 2018, to lead the state’s infectious disease branch at a salary of $127,000.”

WEKU also reported the Lexington VA director said the following about Bennett: “You have lost the confidence of your colleagues regarding your reliability, accuracy, and integrity… Your actions have placed Veterans in harm’s way and violate the established principles governing the practice of medicine.”

The report continues to note: “The infectious disease office helps combat and prevent contagious diseases such as hepatitis A and HIV. When Bennett was hired Kentucky was in the midst of multiple infectious disease challenges.”

“While families in Kentucky have been suffering from the country’s worst hepatitis A outbreak, Matt Bevin hired a disgraced doctor to a six figure salary who only made the problem worse. This governor needs to explain why he put someone who had to be fired from the VA for putting veterans in harm’s way in charge of a growing, life-and-death public health crisis,” said Marisa McNee, spokesperson for the Kentucky Democratic Party. “This is inexcusable, and just another example of the incompetence and dysfunction of the Bevin Administration.”