Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced Friday he was
removing the leadership at the Phoenix VA hospital and shortly afterward tendered his resignation to President Obama.
The president said he had regretfully accepted. Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson will serve in the interim.
“Ric’s commitment to our veterans is unquestioned. I am grateful for his service,” Obama said.
Shinseki apologized for the health care agency’s problems all across the country. At least 40 patients may have died as a result of mismanagement at the Phoenix hospital. Director Sharon Helman and two subordinates had been placed on administrative leave in early May.
“I’ve initiated the process for the removal of the senior leaders at the Phoenix VA medical center,” Shinseki told a group of veterans in a meeting in Washington. The announcement was met with applause.
Shinseki did not mention names or how many people would lose their jobs.
“We will use all authority at our disposal and force accountability among senior leaders who have been found to have instigated, tolerated dishonorable or irresponsible scheduling practices at VA health care facilities,” Shinseki said.
The embattled retired four-star general also said that there would be changes made to appointment procedures.
Obama and Shinseki talked at the White House after the meeting with the veterans. At a press conference later, the president said that Shinseki had ordered the VA to “contact every veteran in Phoenix waiting for appointments to get them the care they need and deserve.”
President has accepted Sec. Shinseki's resignation. Good move. Now let's fix the problems. #VA
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 30, 2014
Sen. John McCain, a veteran and one of Shinseki’s most vocal opponents, said the resignation was “the right move” and called for a stronger VA.
“New leadership at the VA is just the first step in what must be a significant, sustained effort by Obama to fix its systemic problems,” he said in an emailed statement. “The president must join with Congress to support legislation we will introduce next week to strengthen the ability of VA administrators to hire and fire those charged with providing care and, most importantly, give far greater flexibility to veterans to get the care they need and deserve, where and when they want it.”
Earlier this week, the Inspector General filed a report that confirmed allegations of excessive wait times for appointments and staffers who falsified data. Patients waited an average of 115 days for a first appointment. The hospital had reported a 24-day wait for an initial visit.
In resigning, the secretary told Obama the
agency needed new leadership and he didn’t want to be a distraction. “I agree.
We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem,” Obama said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier