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.