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DC VA Director Moves After Putting Veterans In "Imminent Danger"

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The Department of Veterans Affairs removed the director of the D.C. medical center from his position Wednesday mere hours after a scathing inspector general report indicted the facility for unsafe conditions.

Shortly after an Office of Inspector General report found unsanitary conditions and inadequate equipment at a D.C. medical center, the director of the facility was promptly fired.

The VA did not name the demoted medical director in its announcement, but the medical center's website lists Brian Hawkins as holding the position since 2011.

Wednesday's inspector general report points to a number of "serious and troubling deficiencies" at the Washington facility.

The team also found no effective inventory system to manage supplies and medical equipment used for patients.

Shulkin on Wednesday relieved the Washington VA's medical director from his duties.

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Poonam Alaigh, the VA's acting undersecretary for health, told The Associated Press that she had made a decision to reassign Hawkins to VA headquarters after reviewing the IG's report and indicated he could be subject to disciplinary action pending a fuller investigation. All told, more than $154 million worth of medical equipment was unaccounted for over the past year, according to the report. That led to the discovery of problems at facilities across the nation and forced the retirement of the VA secretary at the time, among other changes.

"Patient safety is paramount, and we took these actions with this in mind", Shulkin said. Their dialysis unit ran out of dialyzer bloodlines on two different days last month, and had to borrow lines from a private dialysis provider to complete their work.

The chief watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating potentially risky conditions at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. At 18 of the satellite areas, VA was storing surgical instruments and other items in dirty or cluttered rooms, the report said. "There are numerous and critical open senior staff positions that will make prompt remediation of these issues very challenging", the report reads.

Schmidt added: "The American Legion will closely track the progress of this ongoing VA Inspector General investigation". The wait-time data isn't "real time", but it is fairly timely.

She also questioned how well older generations of veterans would handle a health care tool that is entirely online, noting that they may not be as tech-savvy as younger generations. "Part of OIG's mission is to monitor the quality of patient care and outcomes for veteran patients who rely on VA for their health care".

"I instructed Connell to move out, to ensure patient safety and find ways to guide this medical center forward", Shulkin said. "When you have systemic failure on this level, management must be held accountable".

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