Leslie B. Wiggins (Courtesy of the US Department of Veterans Affairs)
Leslie Wiggins speaks to reporters at the Atlanta VA hospital
DECATUR, Ga. -- The Atlanta VA hospital may be the most dysfunctional
hospital in town. Leslie Wiggins now has the daunting job of leading
it. She will oversee a facility that has a patient load of more than
89,000 veterans -- and a staff of nearly three thousand.
"This is a public trust we have. We are taking care of our nation's
heroes," Wiggins said at a news conference during her first day on the
job Monday. She transferred from her job as COO at the Detroit VA Medical Center.
Wiggins leads a hospital that took a two-fisted beating from government auditors just last month.
Two inspector general reports cited mismanagement of the facility for
the suicides of three mental health patients. The investigation
criticized long wait times for mental health patients. It said the
facility sometimes lost track of patients, and failed to control
Read one of the audits here.
Read the other audit here.
"What I plan to do is make sure we shore up all the systems and
processes within this organization. and hopefully we won't have such
tragedies," Wiggins said.
Wiggins says mental health service will be her top priority at the
Atlanta VA hospital. She will also likely evaluate the hospital's
culture -- which union president Elijah Williams says dissuades employee
"And the (employees) who will speak out, (managers) simply just make it
bad for them," Williams said, citing a culture of retribution at the VA
hospital. "Always. I myself have experienced that."
But Williams says he and other VA employees will welcome Wiggins, who
started her career as a nurse-- and now faces the challenge of a