Dept. of Veterans Affairs Fires Longtime DC Medical Center Director Who Was Reassigned in April

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fired the longtime head of the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center amid growing questions about his leadership of the facility.

In a statement Tuesday, the agency said Brian Hawkins "failed to provide effective leadership at the medical center."

The agency had reassigned Hawkins in April, hours after an internal inspection revealed large scale supply shortages and unsanitary conditions in the medical center's supply areas.

A News4 I-Team investigation revealed Hawkins reassignment was to a new position at agency headquarters on Vermont Avenue. His move to a significant position triggered criticism from congressional leaders and military veterans.

A June report by the I-Team also revealed the agency hired a contractor to fix potentially unsafe floor cracks in the facility’s surgery department in March. VA officials also ordered repairs of holes in the walls of the facility’s “center core areas,” completing the project in mid-February.

The facility suffered a cockroach infestation and a lack of sanitary conditions in its food service areas in 2015, according to federal records reviewed by the I-Team. An agency spokeswoman told the I-Team the problems have since been remedied.

Hawkins did not immediately respond to the I-Team’s request for comment.

The DC VA Medical Center serves approximately 98,000 patients a year. It employs almost 2,000 people.

A report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General said Hawkins also shared “sensitive” agency information on a private, unsecured email address with his spouse. The report recommended new disciplinary action be taken against Hawkins.

Problems have persisted at the medical center after Hawkins was removed. An I-Team investigation revealed a patient’s body went undiscovered in a parking lot for almost two days. That investigation triggered a formal review by the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Earlier this summer, the I-Team reported the medical center shuttered an operating room for hours after an air conditioning system failed.

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