VET­ER­ANS POST

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - y Freddy Groves

New boss for trou­bled D.C. VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter

Those of you who get care at the Wash­ing­ton DC Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Med­i­cal Cen­ter (over

120,000 of you) prob­a­bly can breathe a sigh of re­lief. A new direc­tor has taken the helm. Michael Heimall comes with

loads of ex­pe­ri­ence: for­mer Army of­fi­cer, served as direc­tor at Wal­ter Reed, 30 years in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties, a de­gree from the War Col­lege and a lot more. But the Wash­ing­ton DC VA Med­i­cal

Cen­ter might be his big­gest chal­lenge yet.

This was the fa­cil­ity that risked lives be­cause of chronic short­ages. Re­mem­ber when surgery staff had to run to other hospi­tals to bor­row equip­ment? Or the dirty store­rooms for ster­ile sup­plies, ex­pired ma­te­rial on the shelves, surg­eries can­celed for lack of equip­ment, half a mil­lion un­in­ven­to­ried items stored in un­se­cured ar­eas, $92 mil­lion in sup­plies or­dered when there was no clue about what they al­ready had, and con­fi­den­tial pa­tient info stored in an un­se­cured area and found in the dump­ster? The VA’s Of­fice of the In­spec­tor

Gen­eral had plenty to say about it in its re­port.

All that non­sense will hope­fully come to a screech­ing halt. A to-do list for Heimall: Of the 40

fixes rec­om­mended by the OIG, how many have been im­ple­mented?

Re­cently the D.C. fa­cil­ity was down­graded from a ridicu­lously low two-star rat­ing to only one star. It’s just my opin­ion, but

no VA med­i­cal fa­cil­ity should ever be al­lowed to fall below a three-star rat­ing with­out ma­jor in­ter­ven­tion swoop­ing in. At this point, there are eight oth­ers with one-star rat­ings: At­lanta; Big Spring and El Paso, Texas; Loma Linda, Cal­i­for­nia; Mem­phis; Mont­gomery, Alabama; and

Phoenix and Tuc­son, Ari­zona.

One thing Heimall needs to keep an eye on: The ster­ile pro­cess­ing cen­ter was to be com­pleted by March 2019. Let’s

hope it will be.

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