Atlanta VA shifts around lead staff after receiving 1-star quality rating

The Atlanta Veteran Affairs Medical Center relocated some of its top medical leaders Oct. 18 after the center received a one-star quality rating, placing it among the lowest 10 percent of VA hospitals nationwide, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The hospital's rating fell from three stars to one in the U.S. Department of Affairs' most recent national quality assessment.

The medical center's deputy chief of staff and chiefs of the emergency, primary care and clinical access services departments were all moved to other positions. David Bower, the hospital's chief of staff, decided to retire, instead of being moved to a new location. Annette Walker, Atlanta VA director, will stay in her current position.

"To be clear, this is not an indication of misconduct on the part of any Atlanta VAMC employee," Leslie Wiggins, director of Veterans Integrated Service Network 7, which oversees the Atlanta VA, said in a written statement to AJC.  "Rather, we are making these changes out of an abundance of caution so that veterans can have the utmost confidence in the facility's commitment to quality of care."

In the past year, inspectors from the state's Environmental Protection Division discovered more than one ton of hazardous wast piled up in the facility that was creating "unsafe conditions," according to an order signed by the division  Sept. 25. The VA medical center paid the agency $13,600. Reported Sept. 13, the VA's Office of Inspector General found the Women Veterans Health Program did not complete 42 patients' mammograms.

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