The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reassigned the director of the troubled Washington DC VA Medical Center and promoted another staffer to run the facility.
Charles Faselis is now acting director at the facility — the third director in the past 12 months. He served as the medical center’s chief of staff for two years and has served as a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine.
The VA did not say how long Faselis is to serve as acting director, but several sources told News4 it's a two-week assignment for now.
Former Director Larry Connell was reassigned to agency headquarters. The VA said it wanted to keep Connell in the job but couldn't because of technicalities in federal hiring rules.
Connell was a top advisor to former VA Secretary David Shulkin. Questions were raised about whether other candidates were given due consideration for the job running the medical center.
Connell took over as acting director of the medical center in April 2017, hours after the release of a scathing report detailing supply shortages, unsanitary conditions and mismanagement at the facility. The VA reassigned and later fired Brian Hawkins, the medical center’s former director.
In June 2017, an I-Team report revealed a patient’s body went undiscovered in the medical center parking lot for nearly two days.
An I-Team report in November 2017 found the medical center canceled at least nine surgeries amid concerns about the safety of some of the surgical instruments.
And in February 2018, an I-Team report revealed the VA internally classified the DC VA Medical Center as “high risk and low performing,” requiring an added regimen of inspections and reviews by the agency. A higher rate of IV infections and long wait times for some mental health appointments were two of the factors. The I-Team report led to a U.S. Senate inquiry of problems at the facility.
A March 2018 Office of Inspector General investigation of the medical center showed the agency’s administrators failed to heed warnings of supply shortages and sterilization problems at the medical center as far back as 2013. Shulkin called the problems identified by the inspector general as systemic.
The I-team reported several other problems prior to Connell’s appointment. A report by the I-Team revealed the agency hired a contractor to fix potentially unsafe floor cracks in the facility’s surgery department in March 2017. VA officials also ordered repairs of holes in the walls of the facility’s “center core areas.” The facility suffered a cockroach infestation and a lack of sanitary conditions in its food service areas in 2015, according to reporting by the I-Team.