What to Know
- Michael Heimall is the medical center’s fifth director since April 2017.
- He is a former director at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
- The medical center has been formally classified as “high risk and low performing” by agency leaders.
The troubled Washington DC VA Medical Center has a new director. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the appointment of Michael Heimall as director of the agency’s flagship medical center.
Heimall’s appointment makes him the medical center’s fifth director since April 2017, a period of high turnover, major disruptions and scathing internal reports.
Heimall is a former director at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He’ll assume his new position Sunday.
“Michael’s proven experience is what we need to continue to stabilize and make further improvements at the medical center,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
A series of investigations by the News4 I-Team has revealed mismanagement and supply shortages inside the medical center in recent years. The medical center has been formally classified as “high risk and low performing” by agency leaders.
Internal agency records obtained by the I-Team in 2017 showed a longstanding problem of delayed surgical procedures at the DC VA Medical Center. Some were delayed because of supply shortages, including a hip surgery and a urological procedure.
The I-Team reports also revealed a string of other problems and incidents, including the postponement of at least nine surgeries in November 2017 because of concerns about the safety of some surgical equipment.
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 in 2017.
The agency fired the medical center’s former longtime director Brian Hawkins in 2017. Hawkins has since filed a civil suit against the agency in D.C. federal court.
The DC VA Medical Center provides health care to more than 100,000 veterans and has an operating budget of $610 million.