“PILL-PUSHING HOSPITAL” WILL NOT RELEASE MEDICAL RECORDS, DESPITE HIPAA

by Sharon Rondeau

(Aug. 8, 2016) — An individual designated as power of attorney for a U.S. Army soldier treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and other facilities over the last three years reports that Walter Reed Warrior Transition Brigade has now said that the soldier can take leave any time he wishes.

While the soldier was denied the ability to take family or medical leave since he sustained a traumatic brain injury in April 2013, he was finally released for leave on June 20, 2016, which ran through July 8.

According to the POA, during a video deposition with Detective Lee at Fort Myer on June 8, 2016, the soldier reported that he was sexually assaulted, physically abused in other ways, and made a victim of identity theft by four assailants on April 29, 2013 while stationed at Ft. Lee.  He alleges that he was then thrown into moving traffic, causing him to land on a car hood and hit his head on the windshield.  An ambulance responded and transported him to University of Virginia Medical Center, where he remained for approximately five weeks with a diagnosed traumatic brain injury.

Differing accounts of what occurred appear in reports issued by U.S. Army military police and the Petersburg Bureau of Police, the latter of which has been fraught with corruption scandals.  Strangely, no one has been prosecuted for the alleged crimes against the soldier, and after more than three years, he has never been interviewed about the incident by the police.

Based on a witness who was present with the soldier during the video deposition, the soldier and his POA believe that he was ruthlessly attacked because he dared to speak out about sexual improprieties which he alleged occurred among his wife, at least one commanding general and his wife, the platoon chaplain and other officers while he was stationed in Korea in 2012.

The POA told us that the soldier additionally alleges that he was sent to Ft. Lee and placed in a “medical board” process by which to separate him from the Army as a result of his attempts to blow the whistle.  Just before he returned stateside, his then-wife accused him of rape and 31 other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). According to the POA, after filing the allegations, the soldier’s then-wife revealed that she was pregnant and gave birth to a child well after the couple separated.

The soldier obtained a divorce in New York State while undergoing treatment for his injuries, but the identity theft has never been prosecuted.  A perfunctory letter from the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) stated that “a thorough investigation” had taken place into the soldier’s report that $13,000 had been borrowed under his falsified signature but provided no documentation. Last month, The Post & Email contacted NFCU representative John Tindell to inquire as to the type of “investigation” allegedly conducted but as of this writing has received no response.

The POA informed The Post & Email that the soldier is seeking advice on petitioning New York State courts for a paternity test for all three children, two of whom were born when the couple shared a home together before his deployment to Korea.  “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the math,” the POA quoted the soldier as having said of the arrival of the third child.

The same day as the publication of The Post & Email’s initial article on the soldier’s story, the Petersburg police contacted the soldier’s assigned SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention Program) attorney, who informed the POA that a member of the Petersburg Bureau of Police had communicated a request for an interview with the soldier who at the time was enjoying leave with his family.

Header of Warrior Transition Brigade Leave Policy

One of the conditions of his leave was for him to have blood levels drawn at very specific times, to which the POA agreed.  Another was that he was required to call in by Skype twice daily so that medical personnel from the Warrior Transition Brigade could observe him taking his medications.

Prior to being released for leave, the soldier signed an agreement to the conditions without his power of attorney present, as the POA was not notified until afterward.  The document signed by the soldier stated that were he to fail to adhere to the preconditions, he would be considered “AWOL.”

The POA perceived the stringent medical requirements as overly intrusive and not within the scope of the Warrior Transition Brigade “Leave and Pass Management” policy document.  The POA has asked medical personnel to provide precedent for the restrictions but has received no response.

The POA additionally believes that the soldier is unnecessarily and heavily medicated for conditions which do not exist.  A statement from a medical professional the family hired and is paying privately due to Walter Reed’s WTB “conflict of interest” with Tricare contends that the soldier has been “misdiagnosed” as “schizophrenic,” “bipolar” and “delusional.”

Since early May, the POA has been attempting to obtain the soldier’s complete medical record with Behavioral Health but has been stonewalled and outright denied by the Patient Relations department at Walter Reed in apparent violation of federal law.

In a memo written last September, the Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlined that under the HIPAA law, a patient or his representative has the right to:

  • Ask to see and get a copy of your health records from most doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from your health plan;
  • Get either a paper or, if records are kept electronically, an electronic copy of your records; and
  • Have your provider or health plan send a copy of your records to someone else.

Regarding corrections to medical records, HHS states:

If you think the information in your medical or billing record is incorrect, you can request a change, or amendment, to your record. The health care provider or health plan must respond to your request. If it created the information, it must amend inaccurate or incomplete information.

If the provider or plan does not agree to your request, you have the right to submit a statement of disagreement that the provider or plan must add to your record.

The POA has told The Post & Email of many attempts to speak with Dr. Williamson, the psychiatrist placed in charge of the soldier’s case three years ago, about the medications he has been prescribed, some of which are controlled substances and have reportedly caused serious side effects, including loss of hearing.

When The Post & Email was first made aware of the soldier’s story in mid-June, the POA told us that Walter Reed staff are loathe to document their statements and have declined permission for their phone calls with the POA to be recorded.

Last week, the POA received a phone call from the soldier, whose 1st Sergeant told the POA over the phone that the soldier “can take leave anytime he wants,” an abrupt departure from that which has transpired over the last three years.

In an interview on Saturday, July 30, the POA told us:

I hadn’t talked to them in months; they all stopped talking to me.  But the sergeant assigned to the soldier jumped on the phone and said, “In your last email, you requested the soldier to have leave, and we want you to know that his leave is available, and he can leave at any time.'”

The POA was also told by the sergeant that “the UCMJ charges are all cleared up,” to which the POA said, “Have the lawyer for Walter Reed send that to me in writing.’  “I have yet to get it,” the POA said.

On June 14, the POA contacted the White House out of frustration after failing to receive the soldier’s medical records requested in May from Walter Reed.  A letter written in response dated July 5, 2016 from Col. Christopher Boyle reported that mysteriously, all of the 32 alleged UCMJ violations leveled against the soldier by his former wife were dropped, apparently with no documentation or adjudication.

On Friday, July 29, The Post & Email contacted Walter Reed Patient Relations through the website contact form with a link to the most recent article describing the POA’s inability to obtain the soldier’s medical records, requesting a response, but none was proffered.  A similar message using the same form sent to the Media Affairs Office resulted in an initial return call that afternoon which we missed.  On Monday morning, The Post & Email returned the call to Media Affairs, where an individual took a message and promised to convey it to the individual who had left her name and number on that Friday.  We did not hear anything further.

After the soldier reported the assault to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on June 7, she agreed to open a congressional inquiry.  The five-day required response time on the part of the Army since receiving Gillibrand’s request for information has expired.

“If I were to obtain the medical records, I can request an audit of them,” the POA told us, then continued:

I have names and emails showing that the soldier went physically to Patient Relations.  I personally called the chief of Patient Relations, who gave me his email address.  “Chief,” as he calls himself, went to 7 East and talked to Dr. Williamson, and he let me know over the phone in so many words, “I’m taking Dr. Williamson’s side, and Dr. Williamson said there’s no problem between you and him.”

I went over his head and reached out to Barbara Moidel, and I forwarded her an email from Nurse Case Manager Bobbie Davis where Davis said in so many words that Dr. Williamson is not just any psychiatrist, he is the chief; and in that email she said, “He is willing to talk to you in part, but he needs one-on-one time with the patient.”  But they had my email saying that the soldier’s spiritual adviser is there; the soldier wants someone in the room, and this doctor said he is “willing” to talk to me?

I have a power of attorney document from two states…what does he mean, “willing?”  To me, “willing” means “if I feel like it.”  And what did she mean by “in part?”

I sent her three notices asking her to “Please explain to me what DOD federal, state, Maryland, HIPAA, mental patient — what governs the right for the soldier not to have a minister or NMA (non-medical attendant)?”  We told them, “The patient is uncomfortable with this doctor” and never got a response.

Barbara Moidel emailed me back and told me, “Ma’am, this is not my department; this is for the other Patient Relations people who are having a meeting with the Warrior Transition Brigade on this matter today.”  But no one ever followed up with me. They were having a meeting about my concern and never followed up?

On June 17, the soldier and his NMA went to DOD Inspector General Chastity Heath, the ombudsman.  They both signed an IG complaint, but she didn’t give them a copy.  I have sent three emails to Chastity Heath, but she has refused to respond to me. In the first email, I told her that the commands refused to let the soldier go on leave three times. Finally, when they did approve it, they had to have blood work or they were going to consider him AWOL.  I sent her a second email asking for help for whistleblower protection; I never got a response.  I sent her a third email saying that this is “federal habeas corpus” and we need help for what they’re doing to him.  I never got a response.

The least she could have done is said, “Ma’am, I haven’t interacted with you; can you send me your power of attorney document and we’ll search for it…,” but just to blatantly ignore me?

This is not about me; this is about the soldier.  Whatever situation he is in, if they’ve put it on paper in his medical records, they’ve deemed him as incompetent, which is why I’ve been his POA for four years.  Every time the POA expires, I’ve never had a problem filing a new one as long as I didn’t challenge Dr. Williamson.  But once I started challenging him…

I want to know the cost of NeuroRestorative, how much Touchstone cost. He was given the wrong medication twice at Touchstone…You don’t go to all of those places and continue to deteriorate…that is what they wrote…so if he’s deteriorated in his health care, the doctor is supposed to interact with me to discuss it.  You’re saying that he’s deteriorating, but at the same time, he’s riding a bus, he’s getting a cab, he’s in an apartment like on a college campus. He didn’t require a 24-hour CNA as he has now; Walter Reed commands are just trying to watch him, put eyes on him and listen in to his conversations. They can’t justify that funding.

In the last email, the attorney representing Walter Reed through Ft. Belvoir said, “We don’t have the physical authority to pay an NMA.”  When I asked her, “Please explain which budget is which,” she didn’t respond.

I asked her three times in which state she is licensed to practice law, and she didn’t answer me.

Even if Walter Reed is not capable and she’s representing Walter Reed via Ft. Belvior, there should still be another attorney from Walter Reed who is witnessing and/or overseeing this.  So they can’t tell me that there is not a qualified JAG there, because that information should have come from Walter Reed saying, “We’re not capable, so we’re outsourcing this to Ft. Belvoir.”  It shouldn’t have come from a commander.  So Walter Reed is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

They can’t tell me a hospital like Walter Reed, the president’s hospital, does not have a form for medications.  They have one for everything under the sun.   When I asked for the soldier’s medication list, I received a homemade Word document without a logo or Walter Reed insignia on it. In the body of the email, the nurse case manager asked me to verify “the pills” by basically taking a pill count and documenting it on this “bootleg” pill form. If this is something that they do all the time, why?  Where is the DOD form?  There must be some legal documentation.

The nurse case manager’s response to me was, “This is the only form I have; I don’t know about a DOD form,” Umm..that doesn’t sound right.

The soldier doesn’t want to be on the meds; we don’t want him on the meds due to our religious beliefs and the simple fact that the meds are harming him, so let’s come to an agreement about the meds.  Otherwise, they’re simply pill-pushers.

Chemical composition of Lithium (Wikipedia), one of the medications the injured soldier has been prescribed for mental illness; his POA disputes that diagnosis

The Post & Email then asked the POA, “If the soldier incurred a brain injury, why is he on psychotropic drugs?” to which the POA responded:

According to other doctors, when you have a brain injury, scientifically, it does not cause mood swings, which is a chemical imbalance.  I spoke to a doctor who said that as a result of a brain injury, you might lose some type of function with your arms or legs or memory, but I’ve been told that you just can’t be that many things – delusional, schizophrenic and bipolar – without being locked up in a room with all white walls.  Everybody can see this, even people who don’t have anything to do with the case.  With that many diagnoses, he wouldn’t even be able to function.

Another independent doctor stated that if he was never schizophrenic earlier in life, the likelihood of his becoming so later is very small.

A doctor who we’ve had to compensate directly because they locked him out of Tricare requested records doctor-to-doctor and never received them.  They wouldn’t give her anything, but they had the unmitigated gall to call her and ask her for a copy of her write-up.  She didn’t give them anything.  How dare they ask her to give them records when they won’t give her records?

Although the soldier has been put into a med board twice, the assigned MEB attorney failed miserably as an attorney to counsel the soldier and me. I’m a civilian; I shouldn’t know how the military works.  That’s what attorneys do:  they’re supposed to be honest when they’re working for you; they’re supposed to explain to the soldier what is best for him.  I’ve called the Med Board department the same way you requested a response through the website and never got a response, not even a call to say that they needed the POA document.

Dr. Grub is over the Med Board, and I trust he won’t go against Dr. Williamson.

Col. Boyle mentioned in his letter that an attorney named “Sawyer” who he spoke with in May about the charges had been contacted on the soldier’s behalf.  Boyle said that the attorney had time to meet with the soldier in July, when he would be away on leave, but there is not a shred of communication about this.  Had we received notification that the attorney could have met with him then, we could have moved his leave farther out.

Regarding the sudden change in leave policy for the soldier, the POA told The Post & Email:

The soldier is in Washington, DC; the president is right down the street.  The senator conducting the investigation is right down the street.  Should they decide they want to take sworn depositions before the Senate, if he’s on leave, then Walter Reed could say, “The soldier is on leave.”

This is not going to be swept under the rug.  All I asked for in the beginning was that the soldier be treated with some respect.

 

 

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  1. Joining the military does not mean you have no human rights. The one percent of our society who defends the other 99 percent should be protected and honored. Criminals should be prosecuted for their crimes whether civilian or military. We are not a society that condones soldier abuse. If that is who we have become, then all it takes is for courageous people to expose the abuse. Remember what American hero Ida Wells did. She was one woman. Thank you, Sharon, for being a courageous woman of our time! Justice will prevail!

  2. Unfortunately, cases like this one are all too common in the Army. For the sake of this soldier and all those currently being abused, please keep these stories coming.

  3. I think that slaves might disagree with Mr. Hiller. A soldier still has some limited rights after enlisting and the typical enlistment period is only 4 years.

    Mr. Hiller is correct however that while one is in the military, their basic civil rights are curtailed. Unfortunately this soldier’s POA doesn’t seem to understand that. The military ignores him because he has no standing to ask for anything.

  4. Sharon – a known fact seldom mentioned is that once a person takes the oath to enter the military, the government then OWNS that person body and soul, and can do whatever it feels like doing to that person. Makes slavery seem mild by comparison.