Export woman sues Greensburg veterans clinic, claims whistleblower status

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An Export woman who said she was overwhelmed by the workload at a private clinic for veterans in Greensburg sued the clinic and its local leadership late Thursday, saying she was worked to the point of panic and was harassed when she blew the whistle on medication management problems.

Anne Merical, 56, already had a seizure disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety when she was hired by Valor Healthcare Inc., according to the complaint attorney Robert Owsiany filed in U.S. District Court.

Valor, based in Washington, D.C., is paid by the Veterans Administration to run outpatient clinics nationwide for former soldiers.

Ms. Merical "was responsible for counseling and psychologically treating veterans," according to the complant. She was given "a patient load that was excessive," and faced "an overwhelming number of phone calls," plus "a pile of faxes," that accumulated while she handled therapy sessions for veterans facing mental health crises, according to the complaint.

She asked for more staff, but was denied, according to the complaint.

Ms. Merical became a "whistleblower," the complaint said, by complaining to Valor upper management and to the Veterans Administration about several practices.

Valor did not ensure that patients got the right medication, didn't properly wean them off of certain pain medicines and kept the clinic's heat too high, according to the complaint.

After she went on leave for stress and panic attacks, she was fired in April 2011, according to the complaint.

That constituted age discrimination, retaliation and violation of the family and medical leave act, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit named Valor and three employees and demanded compensatory and punitive damages.

The staff members listed in the complaint could not be reached at Valor's Greensburg clinic. Calls to the company's headquarters were directed to an employee whose voicemail was not working.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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